Tagged: Son of Science Novel

Level Up!

Last night we (finally) passed the 100,000 word mark in Grandson of Science Novel. It feels great, even though we aren’t quite finished. As we mentioned many times, Jen had it in her head that we’d reach this milestone by the end of 2017, which puts us a month and a half behind her (totally arbitrary) deadline. She went into a bit of a tailspin when it became clear we wouldn’t hit the target, and Kent had to step in and take over as head cheerleader and whip-cracker. It’s a good thing he did. It kept us moving forward, and we’ve made a lot of progress.

But we’re still not done. Son of Science Novel came in a bit short for our tastes, but this one is on track to be about 120,000 words, which is a very comfortable place to be. We still have about 20 scenes to write. They’re stubbed and ready to go. We should get to the end pretty soon.

“Pretty soon” is a hard concept for Jen to deal with. She craves a yardstick by which to measure our progress. We do our writing in a program called Scrivener, which has a cool tool that lets you set your word count target and deadline. It then calculates how many words you need to produce per work session to meet your goal. While Jen needed a target, we knew she would be some combination of depressed, frustrated, and furious if we missed another one on this project. Our solution was to set the bar comically low. We chose a deadline way, way too far in the future, which puts the bar we have to clear each night so low that we basically can’t help but trip over it. There have been a few days where we bruised our ankles, but in general we’ve been pole-vaulting way over it.

Having a writing partner means having someone to share the load so that you don’t always have to be the one in the driver’s seat.

Progress Update II: The Progressening

We’re still rolling forward on Grandson of Science Novel. Well, Jen is. Her current scene, and the next couple after that, are our current bottleneck. So Kent’s occupied with comments from earlier in the story.

Eagle-eyed readers will note that we didn’t say “earlier in this book,” and in fact the comments in question apply to Son of Science Novel. The three Science Novels are all one massive story, collectively, and because we embarked on the writing of books two and three back-to-back it has really felt like we’re writing a single 200-kiloword tome. It’s interesting to revisit stuff from the middle book, now that we’ve gotten to know the characters that much better. The ability to do that is one of the reasons we structured the project as we did, so that we could take advantage of opportunities to tie all three books together more tightly.

That’s just one of the ways we try to go the extra mile. We do it for you, to give you a story world that extends beyond the edge of the page.

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!

Like Sands Through the Hourglass

December is coming to a close, which means it’s time for our annual Year in Review post, 2017 edition.

At the beginning of the year we rather optimistically predicted that we might finish up both Son and Grandson of Science novel, and at least get a start on the third Music novel. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! We were so fucking naive!

While we did manage to get the last two Divided Man books polished and released, we didn’t even come close to finishing the Science novels. Jen was already frustrated at our lack of completion last year, so just imagine how thrilled she is now that it’s a whole year later and we’re still not done!

So what did we accomplish, if not everything on our wish list?

In January we had a belated launch party for Miss Brandymoon’s Device, and fretted a bit about what we would do once we finished writing our current trilogy of trilogies. February was spent editing various Divided Man books.

March brought the release of Tenpenny Zen. Yay! 

In April we seem to have wrapped up the first draft of Son of Science Novel, and were somewhat disappointed by its size. In the months since, we have added a bit more to it and, you’ll be relieved to learn, it now checks in at just a hair over 104,000 words. That’s still a bit slight, but is much less frightening. It’s now closer in size to its Mama.

Along with flowers, May brought major edits to Elsewhere’s Twin, and an important decision about the Music novels. And some delicious Greek food.

June was full of chainsaws — real ones, this isn’t an editing metaphor. When we got done bitching about that, we diagnosed some of what was missing from Son of Science Novel and finally got started composing Grandson.

By early July we’d already banged out 11,000 words for Grandson, which begs the question of why it’s still not done. Some of the blame should lay with Elsewhere’s Twin, which needed more edits before its release.

In August we took a road trip to attend a concert, and had a wonderful time. The band was great, and we used the car time to brainstorm ideas for the Middle Music novel. We also topped 20,000 words on Grandson of Science.

All we could talk about in September was the release of Elsewhere’s Twin. Have you seen the gorgeous cover? Our first trilogy is complete! We felt quite the feeling of accomplishment. We’re very proud of those books and all the work that went into them.

October had the new novel’s word count at 40,000, which is nothing to sneeze at. It also had us jetting off to Europe, which we didn’t talk about until November because we like to keep you guessing. And as soon as we got back from overseas, we turned right around and ran off to a writing conference.

And here we are again, back in December. Grandson of Science Novel is sitting pretty at 70,000+ words, which many people would consider novel-length. Just not us. Apart from that being far too short to fit in with our other work, we’re nowhere near done telling the story we set out to tell.

Our 2017 was quite successful, with the editing and publishing of two novels, the completion of a third, and a really good start on a fourth. Just try telling Jen that. She needs to recalibrate her expectations to be more in line with reality, and Kent is doing his best to help her with that. Maybe 2018 will be the year she finally gets it figured out.

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!

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.

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.

The Home Stretch

The end is in sight for two of our current open projects, and it feels damn good. Tenpenny Zen has been resting quietly in a drawer, awaiting its publication date later this month. We’ll pick it up this weekend and give it one final read through to make sure our last round of edits didn’t introduce any embarrassing typos, but other than that the manuscript is ready. Kent spent most of this week’s work sessions hammering out the back cover copy. It’s a completely different style of writing, and we haven’t had a lot of practice with it yet. Kent persevered even when Jen wrinkled her nose at some of his early efforts, and we’re quite pleased with the result he arrived at.

With all those pieces falling into place, expect the cover reveal next week. It’s gorgeous!

While Kent was toiling away on one type of nonstandard prose, Jen was intent on another. Two nights ago she finished writing the stubs for the rest of Son of Science Novel. Up until now the ending was basically “stuff blows up.” We knew who survived and who didn’t, other big picture things like that, but now we know most of the details. Not all, obviously. That’s what the actual writing is for. But now we have the finale broken down into beats, and we know whose point of view we’ll experience those beats through. It’s a complex series of events, and having this roadmap will make the writing go a lot faster.

With any luck (and fewer distractions now that Tenpenny Zen is all but finalized) we’ll be in a good position to sail through the rest of Son of Science Novel’s first draft.

Either of us working on our own would not be able to accomplish nearly as much as we do working together. We find having a writing partner invaluable. How about you?

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.