Interminable Effort

I continue to work on Utopia Origins by making more edits and studying best practices for eBooks and print books. The work never ends.

I’m also working on Hope and the Last Dragon. Hope needs to feed a baby dragon. Dragons are obligate carnivores. She has to find something she has access to to feed him that doesn’t make him sick at his stomach (she discovers fruit doesn’t work). I researched mock-meat. In real life, making mock-meat from vegetable proteins is not easy. In this story, hand-waving* and phlebotinum** will be needed to allow Hope to prepare food that works for the dragon.

The Nyxie and Sky story is also roiling in my head, but I can’t spend time on it yet.

In addition to all of that, I’m waiting for more submission windows to open so I can send out more short story submissions.

Interminable effort, but indomitable persistence.

* Hand-waving: Not explaining a detail in a story while expecting the reader to accept that it exists and works.

** Phlebotinum: A versatile substance that may be rubbed on anything to cause an effect needed by a story’s plot.

2022 Clarion West Write-a-thon Finished

During this year’s Write-a-thon, most of my effort was in making more editing passes on The Dragon Universe: Utopia Origins.

During last year’s Write-a-thon when I was preparing a draft of Utopia Origins for my beta readers to review. Since then, I have made multiple revisions and additional editing passes honing the manuscript to perfection, or as close as I can get.

I also worked on other projects during the year and sent out more short story submissions. I sent one a few days ago and will send out others when the target markets open for submissions.

For now, I’m creating a glossary for Utopia Origins and working on more projects.

I’m always moving forward.

2022 Clarion West Write-a-thon

I’m participating in the Clarion West Write-a-thon again this year. If you wish to contribute to Clarion West by sponsoring me, go to my event page and select the Donate Now button.

Most of my effort during this write-a-thon is editing my Utopia Origins anthology — a collection of five stories that tell the tales of a few of the courageous heroes, both human and dragon, who challenged their societies’ beliefs and in so doing changed the world.

For one of my editing steps, I examined dialogue. I wrote a macro in MS Word that extracts dialogue into a compilation that removes the dialogue from context. This gave me distance that helped me refine the words. The task was tedious, but I definitely improved the content.

Now I’m doing another read-through. While doing that, I’m collecting a list of characters and glossary terms for an appendix at the end of the book.

I’m forward looking and forward moving.

Every Day, Progress Is Made

As I write and edit, I read aloud because I want my words to flow with sounds and cadence. Also, it’s fun to hear what I’ve written and helps me become immersed in the words. Nevertheless, I also find that editing silently has its uses.

The issue is I get lost in the sounds of my words, which interferes with seeing ways to make the words better. Reading silently helps me be more aloof. I make the improvements, and then read the results aloud to ensure the words are still beautiful.

That might sound odd, but it works for me.

I’ve been doing a lot of this style of editing, sending out more submissions, and preparing an anthology for publication.

Every day, progress is made.

Enhancing Writing and Editing Skills

After sending out a couple of stories for possible publication with short fiction magazines, I turned my attention to one of the stories in the anthology I’m preparing for publication. The story is novella sized and a call for novellas had come up.

I made multiple edit passes looking for anywhere I could enhance the story. There is always something that can be changed, and every reader has their own suggestions for changes. Whether those changes improve the story is often a matter of opinion. However, I do believe I improved the story. Moreover, the concentrated effort enhanced my writing and editing skills. I look forward to applying those enhanced skills on editing my anthology, and on the other stories I have in progress.

Progressing toward Publishing

Work toward publishing is continuing. Corrections suggested by one reader have been applied. Suggestions from other readers are expected. I’m working through the punch list of items I need to do in preparation for publishing.

Two short stories are ready to send out at the beginning of April and a novella is ready for a May submission window.

Things are happening, but there is still much to do. I wish I could make these things happen faster, but I’m simply not super human enough to be faster.

Preparing to Publish

So much work to do, but I’m making progress on preparing to publish. Many steps are required, such as writing book blurb, creating the book’s front and back matter, formatting ebook and print book interiors, record the audiobook, creating covers, and more. I studied these aspects of publishing for years, but now I’m digging into the details and actually doing the tasks. I look forward to accomplishing something.

Finishing a Book

My anthology The Dragon Universe: Utopia Origins has been through multiple edits (including one I’m doing right now where I’m removing a few scene breaks that are unnecessary). After a couple more beta readers review it, I’ll call it finished. The next step is to share it with the world. That process will be my next great adventure.

Reader Change Arcs

Character change arcs are a mainstay of stories. All characters have a change arc be it positive, flat, or negative. Plotting those arcs is a significant part of my process. However, I never thought about reader change arcs.

Stories can teach readers and change their opinions about local and global issues, but I’m not talking about that type of change. What I’ve become aware of is leading a reader through a change regarding their opinion about a character in a story. Proficient writers may be aware of this. My recent reading experience brought it to my attention.

My enlightenment began with The Dangerous Gift (Wings of Fire Book 14) by Tui T. Sutherland. The point-of-view character is Snowfall, Queen of the IceWings. Snowfall is rude, cold, distrustful, and simply mean. I never liked her. When I heard she was the POV character for book 14, my reaction was why? Snowfall has a character change arc in the story that redeemed her in my eyes. She is now one of my favorite dragons. Sutherland had led me through my own change arc that had changed my opinion about Snowfall.

With Snowfall, the character’s change arc is what led me through my change arc. However, even for a character with a flat change arc, the reader can be led from disliking the character to loving the character. This was the event that led me to realize I was being changed by the writer’s words.

In the Menagerie series — The Menagerie, Dragon on Trial, and Krakens and Lies — by Tui T. Sutherland and Kari Sutherland, there is a secondary character, a griffin named Nira, who has six griffin cubs who have escaped from the menagerie. Nira is indifferent while her mate Riff worries manically and is losing feathers due to his distress. Her attitude triggered me and I immediately disliked her.

By the end of the series, I had learned the truth about Nira. She wasn’t indifferent. She had faith in her cubs and that they would be fine. She was simply enjoying the time off from parenting. Apparently, Riff didn’t contribute anywhere near enough to the work of parenting the cubs. Nira was exhausted. She was happy when all of her cubs were returned to her. And, the menagerie staff had a word with Riff. He began doing his part in parenting the cubs, which he quickly learned was hard work. Also, during the course of the series, Nira helped the menagerie staff in dealing with problems with a local, which also exposed more of Nira’s likeable personality. By the end of the trilogy, I loved Nira. Sutherland and Sutherland had led me through my own change arc that had changed my opinion about Nira.

Now, when I write a story, I’m thinking about the reader change arc I’m creating.

(It wasn’t until later that it occurred to me that Tui T. Sutherland was involved with both of these epiphany-generating stories.)

Book covers for The Dangerous Gift, The Menagerie, Dragon on Trial, and Krakens and Lies
Book covers for The Dangerous Gift, The Menagerie, Dragon on Trial, and Krakens and Lies

My Favorite 2021 Reads and a Movie

My favorite 2021 reads and a movie:

The Poison Jungle (Wings of Fire 13)
Dragonslayer (Wings of Fire: Legends 2)
The Dangerous Gift (Wings of Fire 14)
by Tui T. Sutherland

A Deadly Education: A Novel
by Naomi Novik

The House in the Cerulean Sea
by TJ Klune

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

Book covers for The Poison Jungle, Dragonslayer, The Dangerous Gift, A Deadly Education: A Novel, The House in the Cerulean Sea and movie poster for Raya and the Last Dragon
Book covers for The Poison Jungle, Dragonslayer, The Dangerous Gift, A Deadly Education: A Novel, The House in the Cerulean Sea and movie poster for Raya and the Last Dragon