mmerriam: (Cold Springs)
It got quiet around here on the old blog again. I've been trying to make sure I blog on a more regular basis, but as you can tell by comparing the date of this post to the previous, I haven't exactly been meeting that goal.

I've been settling into my new part-time real world job, which takes some time. When not at work or trying to squeeze all the training into my brain, I've been working on a variety of writing projects, so I hope you'll forgive the lack of blog communication.

I'm actually writing again, which feel pretty good.

I've managed to get about 4000 words on There Are Not Enough Midnights, the third installment to my Gaslights and Grimoires steampunk world. Like The Horror at Cold Springs, this one is a Weird Western tale. I feel like it's working well, if a bit rough while I get the first draft. I've also been working on the next MNSpec anthology project, as well as a couple of theatre and storytelling projects that are still in infancy, so I can't talk too much about them yet.

Another distraction from the blog is that one of my publishers closed. While I am sad for the demise of Artema Press, they very kindly turned over the production files and all the marketing material for Old Blood's Fate, which I am now producing through my own Drey Books imprint.

That's all the news that is news for the time being, though I am creating a list of future blog posts in the hopes of keeping you all entertained.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Old Lynx)
It is Caturday, and Mr. Belyn would like to know if you have read his human's books? Every time you buy one of his human's books, Mr. Belyn gets a treat, and he thinks that is the Greatest Thing Ever!

IMAG0097
mmerriam: (Hide)
Jack filled out a series of forms, and an orderly wheeled him into one of the many identical rooms upstairs. He was settled on the bed, poked with an IV, and left alone. He had the room to himself and was considering turning on the television hanging from the wall when William Saskey appeared, sitting in the lone chair in the corner of the room.

"Estonko," Will said in his native Creek, asking Jack how he was doing.

"The hell!" Jack sat up.

"Jack, you know that's not what you're supposed to say." Will Saskey laughed; a deep, full laugh that Jack was comfortably familiar with. Will would laugh at any situation, no matter how serious. "You know the ritual greeting. I say Estonko and you say—"

"You're dead," Jack interrupted.

Will's brow furled in mock concentration. "Did the ritual change while I was gone?"

"I'm talking to a dead man," Jack muttered.

"Yeah, so?" Will replied, his brown eyes dancing with unconcealed mirth.

"This isn't right." Jack reached for the call button to the nurse's desk.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you," Will said, suddenly serious. "What do you plan to tell the nurse when she shows up? Sorry to bother you, but I'm being annoyed by my dead friend, and I wondered if you could ask him to leave?" Will snorted. "You could kiss going home in the morning good-bye. I doubt you really want to stay here any longer than you have to, and I'm sure you don't want to get locked up in the nut ward."

Jack withdrew his hand from the button. He looked at Will, who seemed content to wait for Jack to come to some kind of decision.

"So am I dead?" Jack asked, really wanting to know.

Will's smile returned. "Why would you think you're dead? I mean besides the fact that you're in a hospital after an accident, talking to your friend who died thirteen years ago?" Will paused for effect before continuing the conversation. "You're not dead, Jack. And before you ask, you're not hallucinating either."

"Then what am I?"

"A little lost."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Old Blood's Fate Old Blood's Fate is available inHardcover, Softcover, and, ebook

Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Old Lynx)
Just what the title says. Artema Press. is running a Goodreads Giveaway for three copies of Old Blood's Fate.

More information and how to enter at this Link Link.

Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Old Lynx)
I am pleased to announce that I have signed the contract, and my novel Old Blood's Fate will be published by Artema Press. We have a very aggressive timeline, planning to have the book ready for sale by the end of March. The editor plans to have my edits to me by this weekend. I plan to complete them as quickly as humanly possible.

Here is the cover art!09 Old Blood's Fate

For those of you playing our home game, you might remember Old Blood's Fate as the first novel I wrote, finishing the first draft in 2005. It was big and bloated and broken, and I didn't have the skills and tools to make it right. I've spent the last 8 or so years tinkering with it, rewriting it again and again as I hone my craft and develop my abilities as a writer, cutting it down from a monstrous 160,000 words to 85, 000. I ripped out entire plot lines, killed a variety of subplots, and took out a whole slew of characters until I finally had something I could be pleased to put in front of readers.

From the Publisher:
As a story that entwines Native American folklore with the lives of two extraordinary mortals, the plot leaves nothing less at stake than the fate of human reality--not to mention human existence.

Look for Old Bloods Fate in hardcover, softcover, and ebook, forthcoming in March, 2013.


If I said I was pleased, it would be an understatement.

Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Default)
Ripped the "B" plot from the old novel. The total word count dropped from 120,000 to 85,000 and I don't think the novel is any worse for the loss of the "B" plot. Now to create some linking scenes and clean stuff up. I figure that will add another 10,000 words back to the novel. Once that's done.. well, we shall see.
mmerriam: (Default)
Ripped the "B" plot from the old novel. The total word count dropped from 120,000 to 85,000 and I don't think the novel is any worse for the loss of the "B" plot. Now to create some linking scenes and clean stuff up. I figure that will add another 10,000 words back to the novel. Once that's done.. well, we shall see.
mmerriam: (Default)
Yesterday, I pulled out my trunk novel and started taking it apart.

I get this novel out from time to time as I advance as a writer. I examine it, trying to see where I went wrong. It has plenty of good parts, but is structurally a mess. Looking at it, I decided to rip out one major subplot and take out several characters, roiling their purposes up into other existing characters, with the possibility of adding or reworking one minor character to fill a gap.

There are good bones here, but it is sagging under its own weight.

I also wrote 500 words on a new story, so it's not all about fixing an old novel.
mmerriam: (Default)
Yesterday, I pulled out my trunk novel and started taking it apart.

I get this novel out from time to time as I advance as a writer. I examine it, trying to see where I went wrong. It has plenty of good parts, but is structurally a mess. Looking at it, I decided to rip out one major subplot and take out several characters, roiling their purposes up into other existing characters, with the possibility of adding or reworking one minor character to fill a gap.

There are good bones here, but it is sagging under its own weight.

I also wrote 500 words on a new story, so it's not all about fixing an old novel.
mmerriam: (Default)
...though it is a bit chilly here in Minnesota today.

I know I've been quiet here on Live Journal lately. I think part of it is that I really haven't had much to write about (at least, nothing that someone else has not already written about and done it better), and I think the other part is: I'm starting to mentally move into my February LJ/Facebook/MySpace/Internet sabbatical.

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of things I'm excited about, starting with, say President Obama. I love saying that! I love hearing it said! Sure, he's just a man, not a messiah. Sure, he’ll do thing I'll disagree with, but after eight long years of that other guy, I can't help but be hopeful.

And this weekend is Super Bowl weekend, a religious holiday in my family. I'll be preparing the traditional Super Bowl dinner of meatball subs and the cheese dip from [livejournal.com profile] careswen's mom's recipe. And while I don't have a particular team to cheer for or against, and I suspect the Steelers are simply too good for the Cardinals to handle, I'm looking forward to the game.

I'm looking forward to Con of the North as well, and am hopeful that no one gets sick this year. I've a bunch of games slotted out, probably more than I will actually play, but maybe not.

Though every short story I have in progress has stalled, I'm still moving along on Rija's Tale. I'm in an odd place in that I'm trying to link up a pieces that were written non-sequentially (something I don't usually do), and so I've had a bit of a struggle with the last couple of chapters. I have one more chapter to write, then I will be back to working sequentially again.

Rija's Tale


While I'm taking time off from the internet (I will be checking email, since most of my work is done that way), I'll be trying to finish Rija's Tale and continue marketing Last Car to Annwn Station while getting both Dark Water Blues and Old Blood's Fate submission ready. I also want to write some more short stories. I need to prepare for the teleconference with the blind writers and poets group. I need to start getting ready for convention season. And I'm going to spend time considering what I want to do with this journal in the future, and what I plan to do about (and what I want to get from) attending conventions in the future.

February seems packed already.
mmerriam: (Default)
Over on my Facebook, I noted that I think Dark Water Blues is both the best and worst thing I have ever written. It is a vexing thing, though not necessarily a bad thing. I've been doing a clean-up pass before I start sending it out to readers, and there are plenty of moment where I read what I've written and go, "Huh, I really do seem to be improving." Sadly, there are still too many moments of, "Oh my god, this is such crap!"

Still, if looked at objectively, I seem to moving in the right direction. The problems with Dark Water Blues are different from the problems I had with Last Car to Annwn Station, which were much different from the problems I had with Old Blood's Fate. For the most part, I find myself not making the same mistakes from novel to novel, which I consider a good thing. It means some of the things I'm learning as a writer are taking root. Maybe I'll learn enough to write something sellable. Eventually.

Michael Yammers on About the Publishing Industry, Agents, Fear, and Slopping the Hogs. )
mmerriam: (Stories)
[livejournal.com profile] mmerriam's writing and writing-related projects:

Alpha read a friend's novel

Beta read another friend's novel

Finish Rija's Tale (formerly known as Into This Land and sometimes called The Not a Milk Maid of Destiny novel)


Finish Steadfast


Start Fourth Dimensional Pony in the Concourse of the Lost


Brain storm on Untitled Weird West Story


Final rewrites on Old Blood's Fate and first rewrites on Dark Water Blues


That should keep me busy for the rest of the year…
mmerriam: (Stories)
[livejournal.com profile] mmerriam's writing and writing-related projects:

Alpha read a friend's novel

Beta read another friend's novel

Finish Rija's Tale (formerly known as Into This Land and sometimes called The Not a Milk Maid of Destiny novel)


Finish Steadfast


Start Fourth Dimensional Pony in the Concourse of the Lost


Brain storm on Untitled Weird West Story


Final rewrites on Old Blood's Fate and first rewrites on Dark Water Blues


That should keep me busy for the rest of the year…
mmerriam: (Dark Water)
So, the novel I'm working on this year, Dark Water Blues, has really started to kick my ass (which is not necessarily a bad thing). This is novel number three (or four if you count the Not-a-Milk-Maid-of-Destiny! novel, which is currently on hold) and I am having a much harder time with it than the previous books.

When I wrote Old Blood's Fate I was a stupid innocent, and just breezed through, working furiously and completing the first draft in about 90 days. It had a cast of dozens, and the POV moved from one person to another with each changing scene, and I didn't really use traditional chapters, and I took a mythological character and turned him into a (well-meaning) bad guy, where in every book I've seen this character in, he's always the Good and Wise Mythological Character. It wasn't very good: In fact, it was broken and clunky and fell apart in places. My reach really exceeded my grasp, but I proved that I could finish a novel, which was no small thing, and I learned a lot along the way, which led me to writing some good pieces of short fiction during that period. And I've learned enough that I think I can, at some point, go back and make it the book it should be, because there are good things at the core that can be salvaged.

With Last Car to Annwn Station I had a lot more seasoning as a writer, with several pieces of short fiction behind me and a whole load of shiny new things in my Writer's Toolbox. It has phantom streetcars and Twin Cities magic and Welsh Myth and I had a blast writing it. It took me longer to write, but it was stronger in the first draft, not so badly broken as its predecessor. This was the novel where I learned about tight plotting and really digging in and doing deep rewrites, and it was good. And I think it's a good book, a book I can sell, though only time will tell if I'm right.

But Dark Water Blues has turned into a struggle, though not a struggle I plan to quit. No, in fact I'm learning more and more about story and theme and tone in this one than I did in the others, but I am struggling with the darned thing. The first problem I'm having is writing in a tight first-person POV. It seemed like I was doing fine early, but the deeper I get, the harder it is becoming to hold the voice and tone. I've written tight first-person in short fiction and been fine, but here in the longer form, boy-howdy is it tough sledding.

Another problem I think I may be having is that I've created a sub-plot that, at nearly 60,000 words in, I realize isn't going to work and really isn't going anywhere. And there is a part of me that, after realizing I was writing a Hero's Journey, but from the POV of the mentor character and not the hero, wants to give Holly some POV, though it's been all Richard up to this point.

But the big problem I'm having is that I wrote myself into a stupid situation, because Richard and Holly have stopped acting and started reacting, which is the complete opposite of where we should be. They are trying to lay low, and that has brought the narrative to screeching halt. So now, I get to go back, figure out where it went wrong, cut away the flab, and get the thing moving again. Usually if I know I have a problem, I just make a note to fix it later and move forward, careening toward the end, but I can't do it this time. I need to sort this out before I can continue. And it sucks, and it's hard, but no one ever said this would be easy.

This is a growth opportunity, right?

Dark Water Blues
mmerriam: (Dark Water)
So, the novel I'm working on this year, Dark Water Blues, has really started to kick my ass (which is not necessarily a bad thing). This is novel number three (or four if you count the Not-a-Milk-Maid-of-Destiny! novel, which is currently on hold) and I am having a much harder time with it than the previous books.

When I wrote Old Blood's Fate I was a stupid innocent, and just breezed through, working furiously and completing the first draft in about 90 days. It had a cast of dozens, and the POV moved from one person to another with each changing scene, and I didn't really use traditional chapters, and I took a mythological character and turned him into a (well-meaning) bad guy, where in every book I've seen this character in, he's always the Good and Wise Mythological Character. It wasn't very good: In fact, it was broken and clunky and fell apart in places. My reach really exceeded my grasp, but I proved that I could finish a novel, which was no small thing, and I learned a lot along the way, which led me to writing some good pieces of short fiction during that period. And I've learned enough that I think I can, at some point, go back and make it the book it should be, because there are good things at the core that can be salvaged.

With Last Car to Annwn Station I had a lot more seasoning as a writer, with several pieces of short fiction behind me and a whole load of shiny new things in my Writer's Toolbox. It has phantom streetcars and Twin Cities magic and Welsh Myth and I had a blast writing it. It took me longer to write, but it was stronger in the first draft, not so badly broken as its predecessor. This was the novel where I learned about tight plotting and really digging in and doing deep rewrites, and it was good. And I think it's a good book, a book I can sell, though only time will tell if I'm right.

But Dark Water Blues has turned into a struggle, though not a struggle I plan to quit. No, in fact I'm learning more and more about story and theme and tone in this one than I did in the others, but I am struggling with the darned thing. The first problem I'm having is writing in a tight first-person POV. It seemed like I was doing fine early, but the deeper I get, the harder it is becoming to hold the voice and tone. I've written tight first-person in short fiction and been fine, but here in the longer form, boy-howdy is it tough sledding.

Another problem I think I may be having is that I've created a sub-plot that, at nearly 60,000 words in, I realize isn't going to work and really isn't going anywhere. And there is a part of me that, after realizing I was writing a Hero's Journey, but from the POV of the mentor character and not the hero, wants to give Holly some POV, though it's been all Richard up to this point.

But the big problem I'm having is that I wrote myself into a stupid situation, because Richard and Holly have stopped acting and started reacting, which is the complete opposite of where we should be. They are trying to lay low, and that has brought the narrative to screeching halt. So now, I get to go back, figure out where it went wrong, cut away the flab, and get the thing moving again. Usually if I know I have a problem, I just make a note to fix it later and move forward, careening toward the end, but I can't do it this time. I need to sort this out before I can continue. And it sucks, and it's hard, but no one ever said this would be easy.

This is a growth opportunity, right?

Dark Water Blues
mmerriam: (Type)
I know, I haven't been posting as much as I usually do. Here's the writing news, for those of you playing the home game:

Short Story Collection: It now has a title, Shimmers & Shadows. I have approved the cover art sketches that [livejournal.com profile] tiny_wings came up with. I have received blurbs from [livejournal.com profile] hatfield13, [livejournal.com profile] hilarymoonmurph, and [livejournal.com profile] wordswoman. The stories are selected, but the actual order they will appear has not been decided.

Last Car to Annwn Station: Needs a little bit of stuff concerning the antagonists added in the diary entries Fay writes on the walls of her room. Then it will need a copy edit pass and a synopsis. I expect to begin submitting it in late March or early April.

Old Blood's Fate: The broken first novel is probably going to go out to readers. I think it is broken beyond repair, but I am cognizant of the fact that I am also a terrible judge of my own work.

The Next Novel Project: The editor at a small press magazine I've worked with in the past is now publishing books, and has asked me for a full novel (on spec, no guarantees) concerning a character of mine that has appeared in his magazine. It's just as well I was planning to write Into This Land next.

Short Story Projects: I realized that I don't actually have to finish any of the short stories I have in various states of disarray right now. I can go ahead and get to work on another novel if I want. That said, I'm pretty excited about three pieces I'm working on right now, two of which seem to be psychopomp stories. The other is an urban fantasy/hard-boiled detective story that's threatening to go off and be another novel.

Other Novels I have one at the one-third point, another mostly outlined, and a third in the vague concept stage.

I have plenty of projects to keep me busy for the next couple of years.
mmerriam: (Type)
I know, I haven't been posting as much as I usually do. Here's the writing news, for those of you playing the home game:

Short Story Collection: It now has a title, Shimmers & Shadows. I have approved the cover art sketches that [livejournal.com profile] tiny_wings came up with. I have received blurbs from [livejournal.com profile] hatfield13, [livejournal.com profile] hilarymoonmurph, and [livejournal.com profile] wordswoman. The stories are selected, but the actual order they will appear has not been decided.

Last Car to Annwn Station: Needs a little bit of stuff concerning the antagonists added in the diary entries Fay writes on the walls of her room. Then it will need a copy edit pass and a synopsis. I expect to begin submitting it in late March or early April.

Old Blood's Fate: The broken first novel is probably going to go out to readers. I think it is broken beyond repair, but I am cognizant of the fact that I am also a terrible judge of my own work.

The Next Novel Project: The editor at a small press magazine I've worked with in the past is now publishing books, and has asked me for a full novel (on spec, no guarantees) concerning a character of mine that has appeared in his magazine. It's just as well I was planning to write Into This Land next.

Short Story Projects: I realized that I don't actually have to finish any of the short stories I have in various states of disarray right now. I can go ahead and get to work on another novel if I want. That said, I'm pretty excited about three pieces I'm working on right now, two of which seem to be psychopomp stories. The other is an urban fantasy/hard-boiled detective story that's threatening to go off and be another novel.

Other Novels I have one at the one-third point, another mostly outlined, and a third in the vague concept stage.

I have plenty of projects to keep me busy for the next couple of years.

Today

Sep. 28th, 2007 09:23 am
mmerriam: (Blind)
Will involve reading from the TC Trolley book in preparation for next weekend's big rewrite session, and sending out a couple of short pieces that returned home recently, and walking to the store because I forgot a few things on the grocery order, and printing new business cards, and working on an agent query letter, and writing the synopsis for Old Blood's Fate, and maybe begging some members of my flist who have done the agent search thing for their address lists, and cleaning house, and making dinner, and buying tickets to Oklahoma for the annual winter holiday family visit, and write, and any number of other things.

Because when life leaves you wanting to curl up and be miserable, the best thing to do — really the only thing to do — is to get up, put one foot in front of the other, and go on with your life.

Peace
MSM

Today

Sep. 28th, 2007 09:23 am
mmerriam: (Blind)
Will involve reading from the TC Trolley book in preparation for next weekend's big rewrite session, and sending out a couple of short pieces that returned home recently, and walking to the store because I forgot a few things on the grocery order, and printing new business cards, and working on an agent query letter, and writing the synopsis for Old Blood's Fate, and maybe begging some members of my flist who have done the agent search thing for their address lists, and cleaning house, and making dinner, and buying tickets to Oklahoma for the annual winter holiday family visit, and write, and any number of other things.

Because when life leaves you wanting to curl up and be miserable, the best thing to do — really the only thing to do — is to get up, put one foot in front of the other, and go on with your life.

Peace
MSM
mmerriam: (Default)
I've been going back over my novel, Old Blood's Fate, reading it again completely through for the first time since just after Christmas. I've been looking at it critically, treating it just as if it were a novel I picked up in the store. I've been reading it through the eyes of the reader, as opposed to the guy who wrote it.

I finished this morning.

It's broken and it's unpublishable.

Simple as that.

There's too much telling and not enough showing.

There are too few grounding details, making it read like a script, not a novel.

The magic system, such as it is, is a confused mess.

The narrative is choppy and the transitions rough.

There are more characters than I have the ability to manage.

There's not enough tension.

The main concept and conceit of the story is flawed.

The blended mythologies are a muddle.

There is no compelling reason to care about any of these characters.

The main plot is confused and full of holes.

The major sub-plots are in even worse shape.

*side note: who the hell told me I could write a complex main plot and multiple sub-plots concerning almost a dozen characters in a 120,000 word novel? I can barely manage one bare plot in a 7,500 short story.*

I could continue listing the problems, but I think you get the idea.

The unfortunate fact is, the scope and complexity of the story the writer was trying to tell was simply beyond his abilities at this particular point in his career to execute.

In short, I was too ambitious.

It is a good thing I made a sale recently to help bolster me a bit, because there is a part of me right now that wants to curl up in a little ball of misery. I've put a ton of work and effort, including multiple rewrites, into this novel, but in the end it is deeply flawed and has been found wanting, and that's a hard thing to swallow, especially since I've been struggling with a lot of self-doubt recently.

But there is another part of me, the cold, clear-eyes, pragmatic part, that understands this was a first novel attempt, and that 99% of all first novel attempts fail. I know in my head that the thing to do is go on to the next attempt. There is a part of me that knows most novelists write three, four, seven novels before they manage to write a sellable one.

And looking at it, there are things I did well (the dialogue, for instance, is sharp and rings true to the ear). You can see the improvement in skill and ability the deeper you go into the piece. It is not a complete and utter disaster.

But it is broken and unpublishable.

Now I have to decide whether to set aside almost two years of work and move on, taking the lessons learned to my next project, or continue trying to fix this one. And yes, I realize there is nothing stopping me from coming back to this first novel two, three, ten years from now when I am (hopefully) a better writer with a stronger skill set, if I think the story is worth telling.

It's just...

What I really want right now is a Guinness or ten, not that it would make anything better in the long-term.

---Insert Colorful, Yet Vulgar, Language Here---

In Peace
Michael

April 2017

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