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One month into the new year, and things are running smoothly. As I anticipated, my workload has decreased a lot, and I’m using my extra time to work on GORR.

November: 8.52 hours. This was eked out in little tiny chunks when I could find the time.

December: 29.94 hours. Halfway through, my workload decreased.

January: 58.88 hours.

These are hours spent actively working. Not staring into space, making tea, or browsing the internet. Not any of the things we get paid for at our day job that aren’t actual work. I’ve found that there’s only so much active work in me, in a day. My brain and creativity get burnt out. My ability to focus and create every day is finite. If I’m lucky, and have caffeine, and everything goes well, I can get about 4 or 5 hours of work in, during an 8-9 hour “workday.” Which, of course, is only possible on a weekend, since I have a day job. Weekdays, I get a couple hours, max.

My goal is to average 2.5 hours of real work (on the book) per day. And it’s hard to hit that, sometimes. I estimate I’ve got a couple hundred hours of work left, maybe more, before the book is available for purchase. I’ve written a blog post about what it takes to produce a book, if you’re curious about what I’m spending these hours on.

In related news, here’s something visual I’ve been working on today. It’s an extremely preliminary sketch of GORR’s cover. Basically, I’m just trying to figure out sizing/layout, etc. The end product is not going to be nearly so messy, I promise. And yes, I know she has six weird-looking fingers.

gorr-pencil-sketch

 

I’m excited about Gods of Rust and Rot. I think it’s turning out even better than Gods of Blood and Bone, and you guys are going to love it. I’ll be back again soon with more of the same type of updates, just keeping everyone abreast of the progress.

I wasn’t able to release GORR when I anticipated. It sucks, I know. I’m sorry to those of you who were, and are, actively awaiting the second book. I hate to make you wait, but I had some unanticipated “real-life” obstacles and family issues pop up, and some obligations that I can’t avoid have hit me with a tremendous amount of work.

I’m struggling to just keep afloat of my current workload, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped working on GORR! Relative to the total amount of time needed to create a book, GORR is almost finished. I just haven’t been able to get enough hours in to finish up the last things that need to be done before I can put it out there. I want to give you all a quality book, and it just needs a little more input.

I’m slooowly chipping away at those hours, though, and I believe my workload should decrease soon, which will allow me to move faster. Trust me, the need to finish it is like a horrible itch in the middle of my back that I can’t quite scratch because my hands are tied. I’ve got to do some revisions, and then I will be doing a beta-reader call to some of those on my mailing list who would like to read the book pre-release in exchange for giving me feedback I’ll use for a final draft. I’ll also be giving out some Advance Reader copies for reviewers, so, if you want to wait the least amount of time to read Book 2, the mailing list is where you need to be.

Lastly, I got notice recently that my email address has not been accepting some of your emails! I did notice that I hadn’t been getting as many emails from you guys, but I assumed it was coincidence, and with my workload I didn’t have the time to look into it. I’m working with my website hosting service to get that fixed ASAP.

Edit: Email issues should now be fixed. If anyone still has problems, let me know here or on FaceBook.

I’ll be updating this blog more frequently, to keep you guys abreast of my progress, even if I don’t have much to say. I want to make sure you’re not staring into the dark wondering about Gods of Rust and Rot.

I really want to make some sort of joke with the quote, “Winter is coming,” by you-know-who. (Not Voldemort.) But I’m not clever enough to pull it off, as it is currently Spring.

But you know what IS coming? “Gods of Rust and Rot.”

What I look like toward the end of a book.

What I look like toward the end of a book.

I waffled back and forth like the best kind of breakfast cake about whether to post a tentative release date for “Gods of Rust and Rot.” Because somehow things always take longer than I imagine. And I want this book to be the absolute best it can be. And Good, Fast, and Cheap can be mutually exclusive. On the other hand, you guys all seem to be really eager for the next book, and curious about when it will finally arrive. Working as hard as I can while being realistic about my abilities, I think I have a good idea.

I’m putting the finishing touches on the first draft and should be done in a few days. From there, it’s on to revision, editing, and all that other stuff you may have read me going into way too much depth about in a previous post. If you’re on my mailing list, you’ll get to see some scene snippets ahead of time, probably get a chance to voice your opinions about things I’m considering slipping into the book during second draft, a chance for ARC copies, goody giveaways, and, of course, first notification when the book is live and available to buy.

If you’re not on my mailing list, why not?! (signup box is over there →)

Anyway, I’m doing my best to hit an August deadline, but it is tentative, and by very definition subject to change.

I’m excited about “Gods of Rust and Rot,” and I hope you guys are, too!

(8/22)

Edited to Add: I’m just putting the finishing touches on the pre-order. Creating the cover, reviewing the text, etc. It’ll be available in a few days, and mailing list folks will have a chance to read it then, while everyone else can buy it to have it delivered directly to their kindles on release day.

The Making of Gods of Rust and Rot: Hours upon Hours

This post could also be titled, “Allow Me To Disillusion You, Part 1”

“YOU’RE A WRITER?”

After I tell non-writers my occupation, I get two common responses. The above question is almost immediately followed by my conversation partner either telling me that they’ve always wanted to write a book, too, but just haven’t “gotten around to it yet,” or, they express amazement at people who have a connection to the muse, and ask me how long it took to write the book.

I think this is because movies, television, (and even books!) really skew people’s perceptions of certain “glamorous” professions. Sure, sometimes cops get to go on high speed chases after escaping convicts, but speeding through the heart of New York while completely ignoring all traffic laws, collateral damage, and pedestrian safety…? Probably not gonna happen.

2900010_1343097576892.41res_449_300For a GENRE writer (and by that I mean novels primarily meant for entertainment, e.g. mystery, thriller, science fiction, romance, fantasy, and horror) we don’t have to sit down and agonize about the meaning of life while waiting for the ephemeral muse to guide our fingers. Anyone can write, with a bit of imagination (something you should already have, but can work on strengthening if Life somehow killed it in you) and a lot of hard work. You can still slip some commentary about the meaning of life in there, though. 😉

The idea that you just sit down and do it is a lot closer to the truth, but it’s more like, “Sit down, do it, do it again because you sucked the first time, do half of it again, send it to someone else to tell you that you still suck, do it again…” Because craft matters. It takes time to learn what you’re doing.

THE MATH

danbo mathAlso known as, “Rambling about my Writing Process.”

I love numbers, especially when they deal with money, time, or any combination of the two. I track my own productivity, partially because it helps me to get faster and faster. And so I know how much time it takes to write and publish a 120-140 thousand word novel. For the people who don’t spend enough time staring at a word processor to memorize how long that comes out to, that’s about 400-466 print (paperback) pages.

This is an estimate of the hours I’ll have put in before my current book, Gods of Rust and Rot, is available for purchase. Hopefully by the time I’ve written a few more books, I’ll be faster.

Planning/Plotting: This is exactly what it sound like. I plan out my novels in scene/chapter segments, so I have a good idea where the story is going and don’t get stuck halfway through, having written myself into a corner.

50 hours

Writing: This includes both the actual typing, and something I call Brainstorming. Before I write a scene, I sit down for a few minutes with a notepad and think about the things that need to happen in the scene, jot down any cool ideas for dialogue, turns of phrase, etc. It’s just another thing to make the flow of writing smoother, so I don’t get stuck staring at the blank page.

195 hours

Revising: Revising is what some people might call editing, but it’s done over the scope of the whole novel, and deals with things like character, plot, pacing, and setting. It’s a high-level view of story, rather than a line-by-line prose makeover. It’s one of the most important steps toward a book that makes me proud to have written it. It also still takes me a long time, and a lot of thought and analysis. It’s something I will get faster at as I write more books, because there won’t be as many things to address.

215 hours

Editing (+): This is what most people normally think of when they say “editing.” Working on the actual words of my novel, line-by-line, looking for wordings I can clarify, grammar, typos, and the usual. The “+” is because I also do a Mini Revision during this time, for any problem I inserted during the first revision, or things I missed. I’m not a crazy perfectionist, but I do read over every sentence in the book twice.

110 hours

Publishing: This is the stuff that’s not “craft.” The stuff a publisher would do for me if I wanted to split my profits with them. It’s hiring another editor to be a second pair of eyes, beta readers, and a proofreader. Then going over each of their work to see what suggestions they have to make the book better. It’s writing a blurb, illustrating the book cover (I do my own), ebook formatting, print book formatting and proof copy review, pre-launch marketing, launch promotion, arc giveaways/contacting book reviewers, setting the book up online for sale.

110-150 hours, and a good chunk of cash

Total: 679-719 Hours (and cash)

That’s actual work time. Not time spent staring into space, browsing the internet, doodling, going to the bathroom, getting a snack, or any of the other 300 ways I subtly procrastinate.

TL;DR

little box guy broken keyboardSo, yes. Part of it is just sitting down at the computer and typing. A large part of it, actually. And part of it is brooding over the meaning of it all. “Why would my main character possibly do something so STUPID!?” “What is this side character’s purpose in my story? Should I backspace him out of existence?”

But mostly, it’s just butt-in-chair time, dedicating myself to getting better at my craft and my business. It’s work. And the best kind of play.

Do any of you guys work a job that is always over-dramatized in the media? What is it actually like to be a cop, a pilot, or…a member of the CIA? If you work for the CIA, wanna be interviewed by a not-yet-famous author? 😆

Also, in case you didn’t notice, I have discovered Danbo.

 

30% off one Physical Book till Nov. 30th

To any of you out there that may have been wanting a physical copy of a book and putting it off because it was too expensive…now’s the time.

Amazon is offering 30% off one physical copy (not an ebook) until November 30th, 2015. I bought this:

It’s a side-story novella from one of my absolute favorite authors. His books have a much-loved place of honor on my bookshelves, both physical and electronic. Additionally, he’s an all-’round great person. Now, most of you have heard of him. If you haven’t, I’ll refrain from asking what you’ve been wasting your time on and recommend you check out his first book.

Here’s to that giddy feeling when you get a brown box in the mail and you know it’s got books inside! Are any of you taking advantage of the sale? What have you bought, or want to buy?

I have one of these perpetual motion cat-toasts in the back room, and I hook myself up to a helmet powered by it when I sleep. It’s where I get both the story ideas and the energy to write my books.

I wish.

Unfortunately, neither ideas, energy, or the time are quite that easy to produce. You have to make them all. And by that I mean I sit down with a notepad and a pen and I make ideas. I decide to wake up and write even when I really don’t want to, or type away in my Scrivener document when all I really want to do is sit down with a back of hot-cheetos and binge the new season of House of Cards. That’s how I “make” time and energy.

Don’t take no for an answer. That’s why I love NaNoWriMo. I’ve always enjoyed telling stories to myself, but when I heard of NaNo as a teen, I immediately decided to jump in and start writing a bit more seriously. It took me a few years to finally finish a book, and that was facilitated by having the whole novel plotted out ahead of time, but that’s a story for another post.

Along with the forums, the Pep Talks really helped me. It’s that believe-you-can attitude that I think a lot of people need more dearly than they know, along with the motivation of knowing that hundreds of thousands of people around the world are doing this crazy thing along with you.

If there’s something you want that you don’t have, something about the way you’re living your life that’s not making you happy… STOP.

Sit down and figure out WHAT you want, figure out HOW you’re going to get it, and then go DO it. Otherwise nothing will ever change. And that’s the scariest thought I can imagine, because time is going to pass whether you’re living how you want to or not.

This month, I’m writing Gods of Rust and Rot, the second book in my Seeds of Chaos series. I’m working hard to create ideas, energy, and time, and I’m loving every second, because this is what I want to be doing. Hopefully, I’ll be able to publish it by the end of January, or perhaps February. That thought is worth having to wait to binge House of Cards. It’s also the thought that serves as my perpetual motion cat-toast.

Do you have a dream, a goal, something you want out of life? What is it? Is it something you haven’t gone after yet, or are you working toward it? Tell me about how you guys are making your own cat-toast, to power the life you want.

Gods of Rust and Rot is in production! Which means I’m writing it.

It took me a while to get the plot for this book all worked out, and I’m still thinking about tweaking things here and there, but the writing has been started, and I’m already getting into some cool stuff. It’s funny how even though I know what’s going to happen, I still get excited and experience the swings of emotions as I write the story, following events in my imagination. The ability to experience other people’s lives like that is a huge reason why I love to write, and I expect it is the same for many authors.

snoopy-writing-is-hard

I figured you guys might be interested in a quick glimpse into what I’m doing. So, I figured I’d give you an advance look at a small snippet I’ve written. Keep in mind, this is first draft, not even close to a final, publishable version. In fact, this might not even end up in the published book, but it’s part of my process.

I’d been waking up with nightmares, from nightmares, for a while. Some times it was the monsters of a Trial coming for me, ready to rip me apart and dance in my entrails. Some times, it was the last time I saw my team member China, as the light went out of her eyes and she died. And sometimes, the nightmare had no form. It was the creeping mass of decay and putrification devouring everything in its path. A shudder, a feeling, a smell. A sickness.
I woke up from a nightmare about the sickness, choking in my own blood. I shot out of the little cot tucked into a hole in the side of the wall, spitting the iron-tasting liquid onto the floor in a dark splatter.
My superior eyes were already adjusted to the tiny amount of light in my box-like room, and I scrabbled to my feet, lunging into the bathroom and trying not to make any more of a mess.
It was probably getting suspicious to the cleaning crew. I mean, how many times would they find and erase my blood splatters before they stopped thinking I was perpetually on my period and wondered instead if I was cutting myself. Or worse, until they suspected the truth.
I hopped into my shower, one of the few luxuries afforded team leaders in NIX, and turned on the water at a temperature most kindly described as “scalding.”
I spit, and coughed, letting the water wash away both the dark, thick blood, and the lingering creepy feeling from my nightmare. The blood didn’t surprise me. I must have started spontaneously bleeding from my nose into my throat and lungs while sleeping on my back. It wasn’t the first time.
Birch, my literal monster of a pet, called to me from the doorway to the shower, his meow scratchy from sleep.
“It’s getting worse,” I murmured.
He padded past the open shower door and under the spray of water, then licked my knee and peered up at me, his second eyelids closing to keep out the water. Though he might have looked like a cat, one with wings that is, he didn’t have the aversion to water that domesticated felines did. No, he was a predator, even if still just a cub.
I’d spent the past weeks in NIX’s compound, doing as they wanted and keeping us all safe. The team was alive and my brother was being treated for the Seed he’d taken into his system. My new power assured it. I’d also been struggling to manage and suppress the side effects of that power.
But it was obvious that I was failing. The bleeding kept happening, as my body broke down faster than it could heal itself.
“I’m afraid,” I whispered down to my little companion, knowing that he couldn’t reveal my secret, and the rushing of the water would cover any other surveillance. “I’m dying. I’m really dying.”

If you guys would like to see more things like this while you wait for Gods of Rust and Rot, sign up for my newsletter. They get perks like exclusive content, advance notice of sales, giveaways of goodies, etc.

So what are you anticipating for Gods of Rust and Rot? Things you’re interested in finding out about, things you’d like to see happen, favorite elements you’d like to carry over from Gods of Blood and Bone?

Gods of Blood and Bone is Available on Amazon!

As the title states, Gods of Blood and Bone (Seeds of Chaos Book 1) is live on Amazon! It’s a bargain already, but if you have a subscription to Kindle Unlimited, you can borrow and read it for free.

I started working on Gods of Blood and Bone September 16, 2013. And finally, after hundreds and hundreds of hours of work, and 22 months later, it’s complete and out in the world! There’s nothing quite like finishing a big project and being satisfied with the fruits of your labor.

I have many people to thank for this, and a few others to stick my tongue out at. (Hah! I did it!) Writing a book is way harder than people think it is. Writing a great book is way harder than that. And starting a small indie publishing company to make sure that book gets to readers the way I want is icing on my proverbial cake. But I love it.

I’m already started on the plotting of the next book, and hope to start writing it soon. Rest assured, it won’t take me 22 months to finish Seeds of Chaos Book 2. 😉 It should be a little over 6 months, in fact. If you’re worried about missing out on the new release, sign up for my newsletter. I’ll let everyone on my list know when the new book is out, and there will be some extra perks exclusive to those people, as well! **cough cough* free advance review copies *cough cough**

Thanks you guys! Now, I’m off to work on the next book.

Gods of Blood and Bone Cover Reveal!

This is the final version of the cover for Gods of Blood and Bone. I’ll be honest, I’m kinda excited.

GOBB Ebook Cover Experiment450 pix

I did a few iterations of this cover before it all shook out.

 

This is the blurb:

My name is Eve Redding. I am the new God.

I never wanted to become a Player in the Game, never intended for any of this to happen. I was content with my ordinary, invisible existence among the millions of civilians crowding my city. But the monstrous creators of the Game forced me to Play, and I’m the type to cling to life by the tips of my bloody fingernails.

At first, I was enamored by the ability to augment everything about myself−to become smarter, stronger, prettier…better. But after my teleportation to that first Trial−a death tournament held on a beautiful, vicious alien world−I would have done anything to escape the Game.

I needed power to protect myself and those I cared about from the Game and its creators, so I took it. But every deadly choice I made along the way eroded not only what once made me weak, but what also made me human.

I’m currently giving out advance review copies. If you’re interested in getting a free copy in exchange for an honest review at the site of your choosing, sign up for my newsletter on the upper right, or shoot me an email at author@azaleaellis.com

What do you guys think? Eye-catching, enticing, byoot-ee-mus?

Wanna see what the first couple covers looked like? That’s coming soon.