This blog has been mostly abandoned. Past and current posts can now be found on SeanDay.net. There you can find out more about Share the Road, the journey to publication, my current writing projects, and other writing news.
Share the Road is now available in paperback, as well as an ebook for the Kindle and Nook.
My self-published debut novel is now available for purchase. You can pick up a copy in paperback for $7.99, and the ebook version is $2.99. The Kindle version is ready for purchase, and the Nook version is coming soon. You can find a description of the novel and much more over at SeanDay.net.
My goal was to get my first novel published by the end of the year, and I got it in just under the wire.
I finished off the latest edit, and I sent off a copy at the end of November to one of my beta readers to check for typos and grammar errors. While I was waiting to hear back, I read it again. And edited it again. This really could go on forever.
As I mentioned in my last post, the book still needed a new cover before I put it up for sale. I had some initial pictures and better ideas were developing, but then rain and a trip to Seattle for the holidays stalled progress on the new cover.
While I was in Seattle, I got my typo report back, fixed them, worked on the website and other background stuff, but I couldn’t do anything about the cover until I got back in town. I returned the night of the 26th and headed out on the 27th for another photo shoot. After lots of dashing back and forth with the self-timer, I had thirty more photos. I couldn’t really see how the photos turned out with the sunlight bouncing off of the camera screen, so I went home hoping I had something good. I ended up using the last photo I took, so I am glad I kept trying.
I updated the cover with the new photo, and was ready to submit it for file approval. And I was still messing with the text. I had to get this thing out of my hands. I uploaded it to CreateSpace and waited for them to make sure there weren’t any formatting problems. I received their approval on the 29th and immediately ordered a proof. Now I had to wait for the hard copy to show up so I could make sure everything looked okay in print.
The anticipated ship date was sometime around January 6th, so I wasn’t going to make my year-end deadline. But I was so close I was willing to call it a victory. Then, somehow, during the post-Christmas chaos of shopping and shipping, CreateSpace and the Post Office had the proof in my hands on the afternoon of December 31st.
I filled out all the last minute synopsis, author bio and pricing information and hit “Approve” at around 5:00pm. I was published. More or less. The book could have been purchased on the CreateSpace site that day, but it didn’t show up on Amazon until January 1st. The listing still isn’t completely ready as the web machines haven’t attached the synopsis and preview, but it is available for sale!
Back in May, I printed up a couple of copies of my book, even though it was still a work in progress. I had earned a free copy from CreateSpace by completing the NaNoWriMo 50,000 word challenge. The coupon expired sometime in June, and I didn't want to see it go to waste.
Even though the book was not ready to be published, it was a great opportunity to see what it would look like in paperback form. I found a nice sunset photo that I had taken at the Grand Canyon. It has nothing to do with the story, but it was a nice picture. I was impressed with the printing and the look of the cover, but I knew I would eventually have to change the cover to give a reader a better idea of what the book was about.
I had vague ideas floating around in the back of my mind, but had done nothing of substance in the past six months. If I was going to make my goal to publish by the end of the year, I needed to come up with something soon.
I took my camera and drove down the coast. I had a certain image in my mind, though I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to make use of it. I didn't find what I was looking for, but I was mostly scouting on this first past through. Almost as an afterthought, I backtracked to another place off my route and got out to take some actual photos.
Armed with a self-timer, I tried to find a place with a good backdrop and a place to prop up the camera. I used benches, garbage cans, and the bike rack on my truck as makeshift tripods. I took several shots, dashing back and forth, trying out multiple looks, and trying to ignore the odd looks I was getting. I ended up with some good initial shots, and just seeing these first attempts gave me some more ideas.
I went out for another afternoon in a different location. On the second day, I found some spots where I could have a wider photo that would wrap around the book from front to back.
After two days, I had several good shots and started playing around with them in my photo editing software. The more I messed with them, the more ideas started to take shape. I had the back cover figured out, and just needed to go out and re-shoot the new idea for the front cover. But then a strange thing stopped my momentum. Rain in San Diego.
I didn't get a chance to re-shoot before heading to Seattle for the holidays, so it is still in the idea stage. I am hoping to capture the cover I have pictured in my head when I return. In the meantime, it is back to the less glamorous stuff to get the book ready.
I spent the month of October doing what I thought would be a final edit of Share the Road. I wanted to get the edit done before changing my focus to the new book, and I thought that going through the novel would also recharge my writing battery for NaNoWriMo.
If I haven't lost count, this would be the fourth edit of the book. Each round seemed to dig a little deeper, make finer corrections, but they would also add new things to the story. And each time something was added, it was fresh material that needed to be tweaked and corrected.
For the fourth trip through the story, I decided to print it out. For some reason when something is printed out it is much easier to detach myself, and read what is actually there instead of what I think is there. Problems don't seem to jump out as readily when I am staring at a computer screen.
Reading through it on paper, smaller problems seemed bigger and I was able to focus in word choice and eliminate some repetition that had slipped through the cracks. When I was finished, it felt like it was about ready for a new audience. I set it aside for November.
December 1st I left the new novel at the halfway stage and returned to Share the Road. It had been in the back of my mind while I struggled with the new story, and I was hoping to get it completely finished by the end of the year so I move on. I sent off a copy of it to a friend for a typo check, and decided to give it a final read-through.
And I am still making changes.
It has been said many times by a number of people, a book is never really done, you just finally have to let it go. If you are fortunate enough to be a professional writer, a deadline forces you to stop endlessly tweaking it. For we amateurs, you have to force yourself to stop in order to move on. A book doesn't come alive until someone reads it, and if you endlessly rewrite it, it is almost as if it was never written.
This is my last time through. I have a couple more chapters on my read-through, and my typo/grammar check should arrive in a week. I need to get this book out of my hands before I do anymore damage.
I am not going to make it to 50,000 words by the end of the day. I am not going to even get close. My word count sits at 30,194 at this point. I may add another thousand by day's end, but it was clear more than a week ago that it just wasn't going to happen this year.
- Begin excuse portion -
I don't have any valid excuses, but here is what seems to have happened. Some of the excitement was gone this year. You can never recapture that first-time rush, that panic, pain and ecstasy. Since I was successful last year, I knew I could do it again this time. And somehow, knowing that I could succeed took some of the motivation away. I wasn't working without a net.
In fact there were too many nets. I wanted to make this one different. There had to be more characters, more stories intertwining. I wanted the story to be more distant from my own experience. I wanted a book I could actually describe in a synopsis and make it sound interesting.
I don't know if you could call it a sophomore slump when your first effort wasn't a hit, but it felt like a slump nonetheless. I hit a personal rough patch mid-month, and lost all motivation. Nothing dramatic happened - no family crisis, no health problems, no accident that broadsides you on a random Tuesday - it was just a confluence of things that sent me spiraling.
This time around, I had more of an idea of where the story was going. This should have made it easier, but it did take away from some of the excitement of discovery. There are still many things that came to me in the moment, but somehow the scenes that I had planned a bit ahead of time were harder to start. There is sort of a fear that I won't be able to pull them off.
But of course I can't pull anything off that I don't start.
- End of excuse portion -
I may have failed to reach the 50,000 mark within the 30 day challenge, but I will finish this book. Though I haven't read it yet, I think there is something there, there. The pressure of a deadline forces me to sit down and write whether I feel creative or not, but I need to be able to do that on my own any month of the year if I want to continue to have this be a part of who I am.
I am digging my way out of the slump I fell into. Though I am disappointed I did not pull off the NaNoWriMo challenge this year, I do not consider 30,000 words a failure. Beating myself up over it (as tempting as that is for me) will not make me any more motivated.
I will get inspired again. I will sit my butt in the chair and write. I will finish what I started.
The first week of NaNoWriMo went relatively well. I sat down at the computer on a regular basis, and met my daily word count. The characters that had been bouncing around in my head were now taking life on paper. They were talking, they were fighting, they were going places.
On day six I was within a couple hundred words of that graph line that leads to 50,000 words. Then I plateaued again. Last year I was out of town for several days in the second week, and wrote nothing. This time I had no excuse. I had time, I had a quiet household to write in, and yet I stalled just the same.
Doubt and over-thinking moved in and chased creativity out. I struggled to type anything. I think what I am writing is more polished than the first draft last year, but it is only because I am taking so (too) long with it. I have lost the panicked abandon of just getting anything down on paper. After several rewrites of the first novel, I am too self-critical this time around. I hover too long over every word and paragraph.
I have a much better idea of where the story is going this time around, but that doesn't seem to help. I keep those plot points safely out in the distance, worried about how I am going to pull them off. Like last year, I am counting on things developing as I write. And they are developing slowly.
But there are good things happening. I will finish this thing. Even if I don't make it to 50,000 words by the end of the month. But I am hoping for some of the late month magic that happened last time. To get to the point in the story where it takes off and the words come more easily.