Writing Progress Report

I haven’t posted a book progress update in a while. So here is one. The fourth Dome of Souls novel is all but ready. It’s proofread, I have a cover, only thing I need to do is to format it and start the publishing process.
Under my pseudonym, I also have a cover for the latest beast and it is ready and currently at the proofreader. Once I get it back, I have to make the final changes and then that one will be good to go too.
So what’s keeping me from doing the final steps of the fourth Dome of Souls novel? The fifth one! 😉 I’m in the process of writing its first draft and it’s been going very smoothly and quickly and I’m already at 75,000 words. I expect the beast to have between 90,000 and 100,000 words in the end, so not much more to go. I’m pushing for the completion of the first draft to stay in the nice and steady creation flow it is in now. While Dome 3 = Jeronimo and Dome 4 = “title to be announced soon”, took a while to write, Dome 5 is like Dome 2 = The Anatomy of Anarchy, it practically wrote itself, because the story was all very clear in my head already.
It was and is a great pleasure to be writing Dome 5 due to this “the book writes” itself aspect. I’m at it for seven weeks now and I suppose the first draft will be finished after ten weeks or so. That would be my second quickest time ever for finishing the first draft of a novel, the fastest being and probably remaining “To Mix and To Stir”, the second Hagen Patterson novel, which took me a mere five weeks to write.
I’m always talking about the initial drafts here, the self-editing etc. process is so much longer than the first draft. “To Mix and To Stir” remains the fastest book also in the department of the overall process including self-editing, and editing/proofreading by someone else. To Mix and To Stir came out nine months after I started with the beast.
The pseudonym book coming out soon is the second fastest. Since I suppose it will be ready in January or February, it took/will take 13 or 14 months from writing to putting it out there. So far so good! I better get back to Dome 5, because I am itching to finish that first draft :-)
Dome 4 will probably come out in January or February too, once I get around to formatting it 😉 Cheers!

Writing Update

I’ve not announced a writing update in an age! So here is one. 🙂 I’m in the last stages of review for my fourth Dome of Souls novel before I will hand it over to a proofreader. Meaning the beast will come out before the end of the year, I hope. My alter ego (I’m also writing books under a pseudonym) is in the same stage with the (maybe) last installation of a trilogy. Theoretically there would be room for another part of the story, but for the moment it’s done. But back to Regina. So the fourth Dome of Souls novel: Remember when the sacked Keepers of Jeronimo left for the freshly found New Earth without telling the revolutionists back home where it is?
We are making a jump into the future again and a thousand years after the fall of Jeronimo, the Earthlings are finding their lost brothers on New Earth. However, what they find is not exactly what they imagined they would. Evil grin.

I must say I struggled a bit through the writing of this beast, since it represented the challenge of two cultures clashing and how to portray those, which is an aspect absent from the three earlier Dome of Souls novels where everything happened within one culture which was in the process of changing itself from within. The culture clash this time was of course interesting and a new aspect, but I did fight with how to, in my opinion, “correctly” portray such a culture clash. It is however a nice preparation for the fifth book, which will (finally) take us to Bahrein. I’m greatly looking forward to writing that beast and since it’s quite detailed in my mind (at least to a much larger extent than number four was when I started), I think the writing process will be quite fast and smooth for the Bahreinian one, though you never know. I guess I can start working on that beast in autumn.

Other than that there are two stand-alone novels slumbering. One has been shopped around agents already without a result, the other is ready to be shopped around with agents, but I’m not finding the patience and energy to write the agent advertising package for that one.
Both stand-alones have the disadvantage of being rather short, just 65,000 words, and most publishers want stuff that’s longer than 70,000 words. Ridiculous that a story can be judged by something like this, but…
I’ll try to send one off to a few publishers, the other to a few agents and after a while give up and bring them out myself again. Though I’m undecided yet whether they’ll be under my name or the pseudonym.
So, I’m busy as usual and my pseudonym has gotten a few fans on whatpadd, just five people or so, but nevertheless it feels good to get encouragement from people who don’t know me personally 😉
And thus the never-ending writing journey continues!

Japan Writers Conference 2017 Report

It’s been a while since I attended the Japan Writer’s Conference, but since it happened in Tokyo this year, I was able to go for one of its two days.
It was great to meet some old friends and acquaintances.
The seminars were a pleasure to attend and a nice distraction from the day job.

The first seminar I went to by Marie Orise dealt with the “downdraft” and the “updraft” of a work of fiction. The downdraft is the first draft, the updraft is the refining, self-editing part of the fiction writing process. Marie made a poll concerning who has more trouble getting the story on paper and who has more trouble refining it. The audience was divided nearly fifty-fifty. I definitely belong into the category of finding the updraft harder to do. I have no problem at all getting a story written. But then refining it, oh my, what an act.
Some hints from Marie what to look for in the updraft were:
If something doesn’t “spark joy”, delete it.
Delete mundane details, no matter how much you like them.
Sometimes it helps to keep the three unities of theater in the back of your mind: The unities of action, place and time and to streamline your story with their help.
Always ask yourself what you want to say, how much of it and in what order.
I shall keep on struggling with the updraft and thanks for the tips, Marie.

Hans Brinckmann did a great seminar on how he turned his WW2 memoirs into two publications and it was fascinating to listen to his memories of when he was a twelve year old boy in Nazi Germany occupied Holland. It’s been a while since I listened to an eye witness report from WW2.

SciFi trilogy author Eli K.P. William’s topic was author voice and other voices like the narrator’s or the characters’ voices in a work of fiction.
Especially since I’m writing in a foreign language, I think it’s difficult to acquire a distinctive author’s voice. I was especially grateful for Eli’s tips on how to make your different characters sound less “the same”. His suggestions were: make “rules” for each character what kind of words they use (e.g. Someone has a Scottish accent), major characters have “dialogue tags” (e.g. Someone says “Oh Lord” all the time and you know it’s that guy speaking and you don’t need an “Z said” so often.), vary the rhythm of speech, imagine characters voices in your head while you write and edit, never let your character say something that’s obvious to the others present (also known as the “as you know, Bob” phenomenon. ) though sometimes this is very tricky, when you have characters explaining essential plot things to each other.
Let’s see if I can implement that into my future stories 😉

The last seminar I attended was on how to get an anthology together. Susan Laura Sullivan and Suzanne Kamata presented their long journeys as anthology editors and I admire the persistence and stamina they had in putting these anthologies together. I especially liked the cover of Susan’s anthology. That’s one nice display of muscles which I’d like to have 😉

The evening dinner had a special feature to offer too, five writers, including the author Peter Marsh, performed songs for a musical Peter wrote. Now that’s something you don’t get to hear or see every day! Congrats to a great performance!

Even though the next Japan Writers Conference will be held in Hokkaido, I hope to be able to attend!

Revision Drive

I cannot put a finger on what exactly triggered my current “revision drive”, but 2 days after I returned from my big trip to India, I spontaneously and seemingly out of the blue took out a novel that I had abandoned as a “failure” in 2012. I read it again, got an idea how to fix it and worked on it intensively for two weeks. I abandoned one aspect and rewrote the ending. Next I jumped immediately into a novel that I abandoned half a year ago and got an idea how to fix this one too, even more radical than the 2012 one. With the 2015 novel I threw out the main character and am making now two side characters into the main ones while keeping the general story idea.
I am quite amazed by my radical revision, I haven’t changed the main character in a novel yet. I am enthralled by what’s going on and I wonder what the hell triggered this radical revising?

I talked with a friend about it and he suggested – the general chaos in India that I saw? After giving that some thought, I tend to agree with him. The astounding chaos I encountered in India showed me another lifestyle, other problems, other possibilities than my European and Japanese background offers. I cannot even fathom how deep the Japanese influence goes, since I’m too far emerged into the Japanese lifestyle after more than 15 years out here, but India was such a sharp contrast to the in its own way heavily regulated and orderly life in Japan that it triggered a different point of view. It opened up a path of possibilities.

Throwing out the main character? OMG! Hm… actually, why not? What would happen if I center the story around those two side characters? Aren’t they actually much more interesting? Haven’t you abandoned the story because it doesn’t work, is too passive? Won’t it become much more active when you focus on those other guys? Won’t there be a completely different dynamic if you do that? The answer is “yes!” – at least in this case and I am enthusiastically rewriting the entire novel and have fallen in love with those two former side characters.

In the case of the 2012 novel I changed something about the world. I originally wanted it to be a tidally locked planet, but the mechanics didn’t work out. Now I suddenly thought, why the heck does it have to be a tidally locked planet? The story and the characters will work on any planet, in fact they’ll work better if that tidally locked planet idea is thrown overboard.

So, this is what I’m doing since 27th of December, heavily rewriting those two novels and I’m suddenly feeling very good about both of them.
They also make me postpone some publishing plans, yes, sure, but what the heck, I gotta use that current revision drive 😉
What I do have to say though is a big thank you to India for opening up my mind to other possibilities. Traveling is one of the most inspiring and wonderful things to do. I haven’t decided yet where I’ll go next 😉

Writing Progress

I’ve not done a writing progress update in a while, so here it is 🙂

I’m busy as always.
Right now I’m working on the final revisions of the second Dome of Souls novel. The first one is Dome Child and already 4 years old. Now, finally, there will be a second one, I hope the beast will be ready around January or February 2016?
Then I’m also polishing a stand-alone second-world contemporary fantasy which I want to send into the submission gauntlet… Not much hope for such endeavors, but… “never give up, never surrender!”

There is a high fantasy novel lying in the archives of Dark Quest Books with a vague promise at publication, but I haven’t heard from the decision maker yet in the entirety of 2015, despite emailing him some 30 times. No further comment…………….

Then there is stuff going on under the pseudonym! One novel out, one novel under submission under that name and if nobody wants it, I’ll put that one out next. The (very nice) cover for it already exists 🙂
I’ve written part two of the first novel published under the pseudonym this summer, and at the moment that first draft is resting. I have a very good feeling about this part 2 and shall get back to it shortly.

Dome of Souls novel number 3 is also already done (the hardest first draft I ever wrote so far) and will follow the second Dome of Souls novel at the end of 2016, perhaps?

Then I’m going back a bit back to screenplays 😉 I just made scripts out of two of my unpublished short stories for a possible collaboration with a movie maker. It was great fun to go back to the screenplay format after a pause of a staggering eight years. Let’s see if something comes out of this project.

New short stories? No thanks. I just love the longer form and want to write novels, period.

I haven’t submitted anything to agents and publishers for more than 12 months out of frustration and have resumed with that last month, finally, quite disillusioned though about the chances of success.

Nevertheless, the writing continues and I’m eager to finish all the current revising, since I have already a new stand-alone science fiction novel in my head and several books to write in several series – Dome of Souls 4 and 5 and maybe even 6, then books 3 in two series that are at the moment destined for the pseudonym.
= there is a lot to write, a lot to do, so little time, and there is no drying up of the juices in sight anywhere!
Thus are the troubles of the prolific writer, so much to write, hardly anybody to read it………. yet… I’m still saying “yet”! Cheers!

Why I am Bothering to Write Fiction in this Day and Age

Author Kameron Hurley is writing for Locus once in a while and I really liked her latest article, but I feel the urge to write a „response“ from the other end of the spectrum.

Yes, I do have hundreds of rejections slips at home, yes, I have workshopped my work in peer groups extensively in the Tokyo Writers Workshop in the past and also Odyssey Online for five years. Yes, I have leveled up extensively over the past years and my novels now are a lot better than five years ago. Yes, I do believe in continuous learning, refining the craft, etc., and I am sure my novels will be better in five years than my novels are right now. But… I still haven’t „made it“. (let me define having „made it“ as having a major publishing house churning out your stuff and being repped by a reputable agent)
It’s pointless to speculate on the issue of why. Although I can throw a few attempts at reasons into the room:
1) I don’t live in the US or UK
2) I am not a US or UK citizen
3) I am not a native speaker of the beautiful English language
4) I am not good at schmoozing with editors and agents at the few conventions I used to go to
5) I don’t really like short fiction and despite having sold some short stories, I didn’t manage to place them in the two/three big magazines out there, and instead focus(ed) on long-fiction, my real passion.
6) I am not of the kind who loves writing the perfect query letter and the perfect synopsis.

Despite that, I have managed to be published by two small presses in Canada and the US. However, the response times of both publishers are a joke, to put it mildly. I haven’t heard from the publisher in the US in nine months or so, despite emailing him every other week. Their, sorry to say, unprofessional working style drives me nuts.
So, yes, I have resorted to self-publishing – why? To get rid of the stuff! To have it off my desk, out of my mind, done with it, gone, bye, sayonara, to free up space for the next project.

So far all the first books in a series I have self-published went through the submission gauntlet and the workshopping gauntlet. Actually it’s only three – Dome Child, She Should Have Called Him Siegfried and now a space opera published under a pseudonym. I cannot really „count“ To Mix and To Stir and Give Substance to a Thought, because they are parts two and three of the Hagen Patterson trilogy that started with She Should Have Called Him Siegfried.

A fourth start of a series (that I will put out this autumn under that pseudonym) is the most extensively workshopped and edited thing I have written so far. It is good, damn it, a very emotional story in my opinion that suffers only from being fuzzy genre-wise. I call it a second-world historical-fantasy, its second part will be SciFi since it happens 1000 years after the first one. Rejection slip after rejection slip, several almosts and I’m just fxxing tired of them!
Ironically, the books I self-published so far are actually far better edited, workshopped and cared for than the three novellas I managed to publish with small publishers.

I am frustrated with the publishing world, yes, and I strongly believe that the publishing world, as the whole rest of the world, are grossly unfair. On top of that I have geographical and other disadvantages.
I have another book in the pipeline (a stand alone, could be the start of a series though) that I shall send into the submission gauntlet again, whilst pushing out all the other stuff and here is finally why I am in the „game“:

I want to tell stories. I don’t have the ambition to be a master writer like Kameron, I just want to tell all the stories that I have in my head and entertain myself as well as a few other (the dream is many) people with them.
I can’t sit forever on a novel and refine it to death. All novels are abandoned. Maybe I abandon them too early, but there is too much stuff I want to tell to forever linger on the previous book. I’m in it for the fun of writing down a story, I’m in it because it’s awesome to construct entire worlds. I’m in it because I love my characters. For me Jove, Shavendra, Hagen, Al, Juliana, Floyd, Darnar, Talip, Lofgar, Marusar, Jaiah, Sina, Jyrus, Marlan, Hriff and Flin and and and are like people I know and they are asking me to tell their stories. Of course I want people to read them, but I’m doing this to entertain myself, because I laugh, love, and cry together with my characters and I’d like to thank them from the bottom of my heart for their existence, for urging me to write about them and for inspiring me.