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The ETERNITY’S MIND Editing Marathon

Published December 14, 2015 in Advice - 3 Comments

It’s the last draft, my final read-through and edit of ETERNITY’S MIND, the 700-page manuscript I’ve been working on all year. The grand finale of the Saga of Shadows trilogy, tenth novel overall in my Saga of Seven Suns universe. And it’s complicated, 34 different point-of-view characters and storylines.

I needed a place to concentrate so I could fit the whole story in my head, with minimal interruptions.

It was time to head off to Estes Park, Colorado, again, one of my favorite writing retreats, with a cabin on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, kitchenette, refrigerator, bed, fireplace, bathtub. Add my iPod and my laptop, and it was the perfect environment. The weather was supposed to be bad, but that was good—I was just going to stay inside anyway.

Four days and nights to get as much of the manuscript edited as possible. This would be my seventh time reading the book.

I left a chunk of the manuscript at home, so Rebecca could start her detailed line and copy-edit, and I promised to send her 100-page sections as I finished them.

I arrived on Thursday afternoon, unpacked, set up shop. I got groceries, bought a rotisserie chicken and a bag of salad so I wouldn’t have to cook dinner, and got to work. I finished about 50 pages before I called it a night at 1 AM and went to bed, but I was just getting warmed up.

Next morning it was gray, cold, snowy…perfect editing weather. I wouldn’t be the least bit interested in going out for a hike. I sat on the futon with my lap desk, then I moved to the table where I could use the bluetooth keyboard, then back to the futon for another chapter or two, then in the afternoon I took a break and went to sit in Starbucks for an hour or two to edit in a different environment, then back to the cabin to keep going.

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If I focus, I can edit about ten pages an hour. After making myself breakfast and getting to the second cup of coffee, I started at 9 AM, then tried to get ten pages done by 10 AM. If I made it, I could treat myself with a break to look at Facebook or check email; if I didn’t make it, I had to plow through and hope to make up for time and have twenty pages done by 11 AM. Then thirty pages done by noon.

I heated up a can of soup and had some leftover salad, then got back to work, hoping to catch up with the ten pages an hour. Naturally, the inevitable “emergency” phone call or two or crisis email derailed the schedule. I made some Italian sausages in marinara sauce in the crockpot, so it would be ready whenever I needed to break for dinner. Sure, it would have been nice to go out to a restaurant to dinner, but that would have taken too much time and disrupted the routine.

I did manage to reach my goal of 100 pages edited, by about 10 PM, and called to check in with Rebecca. After which, I “treated” myself by spending an hour and a half answering business emails, keeping up with social media, and posting a blog. I ran a bath, but my brain and eyeballs were just too wrung out to relax by reading, so I put in headphones and listened to an audiobook, then got to bed by 1 AM.

Up the next morning by 7:30 AM, clouds and snow again—editing weather—shower, breakfast, coffee, then back to the editing by 9, ten pages an hour, canned soup for lunch and leftover chicken for dinner, and again finished my goal of 100 pages by 10 PM, more email, another bath and audiobook, to bed by 1 AM.

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For four days in a row. Today it was beautifully, cruelly sunny, but I stayed inside and edited anyway. It’s still a pretty cool office.

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Tomorrow I will leave to head home, and the novel *should* be finished and delivered by the end of the week. As of right now, I have done up to page 410 (out of 734), and I hope to get another 50 finished before I check out at noon. An exhausting but satisfying retreat.

And the last time I did this, when I got home a neighbor commented, “I hope you had a really nice vacation.”

ETERNITY’S MIND will be out next September from Tor Books. You can preorder your copy now.

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A StoryBundle of Holiday Joy!

Published December 13, 2015 in Advice - 0 Comments

As I write this blog, Colorado has been hit with the first big snowstorm of the season, 8-12 inches overnight. School is closed for a snow day, and my snowplow guy just called to say that he can’t even get up our road to plow the driveway.

So, we’ll sit inside all nice and cozy with a fire. A perfect time to read.

Holidays are full of magic, good cheer, mystery, and wonderful fantasies. This time of year—from Thanksgiving through Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, New Years—is packed with possibilities, and great fodder for writers to tell some of their best stories.

It was a tradition of mine early in my career to write a new story and get together with other writer friends, where we would share the stories on Christmas Eve. Continuing that tradition, in spirit, for the second year I’ve put together a bundle of entertaining and heartwarming books of holiday stories—from the magical to the fantastical. Stories to be shared…or just savored alone while wrapped in a warm blanket and sipping eggnog. Storybundle.com

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The Holiday Fantasy StoryBundle has 11 books full of wonders and excitement from the tiniest snowflake to the farthest reaches of the galaxy. Two full “Cosmic Christmas” SF anthologies from Baen Books, the brand new anthology Naughty or Nice (edited by Hugo-nominee Jennifer Brozek for this StoryBundle to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis research—which includes a new Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. Christmas story, Cold Dead Turkey, published here for the first time ever), and a brand new collection by New York Times bestselling author Jody Lynn Nye, A Circle of Celebrations, created especially for this StoryBundle.

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And you’ll also want to read the delightful and heartwarming St. Nicholas and the Dragon by New York Times bestseller Tracy Hickman, The Bear Who Found Christmas by Alan Rodgers, Up on the Rooftop by Kristine Grayson, The Rakehell’s Christmas Angel by Carole Nelson Douglas, The Nun’s Dragon by Christine Emmert,Santa and Other Christmas Criminals by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, as well as Naughty & Nice—the Dan Shamble Christmas story I wrote last year for my fans.

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At StoryBundle, you name your own price, all 11 books for a minimum bid of $15. AND a portion of the money received goes directly to help Be a Santa, Penny Lane, the holiday charity run by Babylon 5’s Patricia Tallman, to provide a great holiday for a shelter helping out abused children.

These books are wonderful gifts to yourself, and even if you don’t read them all, you’ll find something to enjoy and share throughout the holiday season. Ho ho ho!  HURRY, this ends in THREE WEEKS.

The initial titles in the Holiday Fantasy Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:

  • The Bear Who Found Christmas by Alan Rodgers
  • A Cosmic Christmas by Hank Davis
  • The Rakehell’s Christmas Angel by Carole Nelson Douglas
  • Naughty or Nice by Jennifer Brozek
  • Santa and Other Christmas Criminals by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • The Nun’s Dragon by Christine Emmert

If you pay more than the bonus price of just $15, you get all six of the regular titles, plus these outstanding books:

  • A Cosmic Christmas 2 You by Hank Davis
  • Up on the Rooftop by Kristine Grayson
  • Naughty & Nice by Kevin J. Anderson
  • Circle of Celebrations – The Complete Edition by Jody Lynn Nye
  • St. Nicholas and the Dragon by Tracy and Laura Hickman

Circle of Celebrations – The Complete Edition by Jody Lynn Nye

Jody Lynn Nye has been a friend and close writing colleague for a long time, and has become someone I can rely on for just about any literary need. At WordFire Press we’re releasing many of her backlist books. For last year’s Holiday Fantasy bundle, I had an extra slot and Jody put together a few of her holiday-related stories that might be of interest. But that lit a fire under her—and in the intervening year she wrote a lot more stories to fill the gaps, enough to make a complete book that we are publishing in print and eBook. Here, before it’s released elsewhere, you can get the complete volume of stories.

Santa and Other Christmas Criminals by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Up on the Rooftop by Kristine Grayson

I have a long-standing holiday connection to Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and her pen name Kristine Grayson. Back when I was a young aspiring author, a bunch of us would gather in Eugene, Oregon, where Kris lived with her husband Dean Wesley Smith. We would share Christmas stories, reading them aloud on Christmas Eve. It became a tradition to write something new for each year—and Kris is still doing it, producing two books for this year’s Holiday Fantasy bundle.

A Cosmic Christmas by Hank Davis
A Cosmic Christmas 2 You by Hank Davis

Toni Weisskopf, the publisher of Baen Books, isn’t just a traditional publisher—she’s innovated many new ways of distribution with the numerous changes in the business. Sometimes Baen Books fits the mold of a big publisher, but they also embrace cool ideas and explore techniques that indie publishers use, too. I’m delighted that Toni is letting us experiment with two Baen publications for this StoryBundle—and her two Cosmic Christmas SF holiday anthologies couldn’t be more perfect.

The Bear Who Found Christmas by Alan Rodgers

Alan Rodgers, a former bestselling SF/fantasy/thriller writer wrote a charming tale, The Bear Who Found Christmas, before he passed away a few years ago. The good people at Book View Café have been re-releasing most of Alan’s books, and they offered this wonderful story to go into this year’s bundle. I hope you enjoy it.

The Rakehell’s Christmas Angel by Carole Nelson Douglas

Carole Nelson Douglas is best known for her Midnight Louie cat mysteries and her Delilah Street urban fantasy series; we usually see each other at DragonCon each year, and she’s been a delightful addition to several of my StoryBundles. She offered me an urban fantasy holiday romance to add just the right amount of charm for warm Christmas cheer.

The Nun’s Dragon by Christine Emmert

When I was shaking the Christmas trees for titles to include in the holiday fantasy bundle, one of my writer friends, Stant Litore, brought The Nun’s Dragon to my attention. Christine Emmert was a new name to me, but Stant was right—this book is absolutely appropriate, and he promised to use his usual verve to help promote it.

Naughty or Nice by Jennifer Brozek

The Naughty or Nice anthology, to benefit Cystic Fibrosis research, is the main reason for this bundle. Jennifer Brozek, the editor, approached me to see if I would write a story for the book, provided the Kickstarter funded. Not only did I agree to do a story for her (a brand new Dan Shamble, Zombie PI Christmas story!) but I offered to put together this bundle, which would help to cover the expenses and raise even more money for the cause. Ho ho ho!

Naughty & Nice by Kevin J. Anderson

Naughty & Nice (not to be confused with the Naughty OR Nice anthology!) is the Dan Shamble, Zombie PI Christmas tale I wrote last year and published for fans of the series. In a world where all mythical creatures have come back to life (hence, the clients for my zombie detective), of course Santa Claus would exist as well! And he hires Dan Shamble to help him retrieve a very important piece of stolen property: his valuable “naughty and nice” list! You never know what might be coming down your chimney!

St. Nicholas and the Dragon by Tracy and Laura Hickman

Tracy Hickman is full of dragons—best known for his seminal work in the Dragonlance universe, and also developing games, serving as a writing instructor, and building his own huge fan base. Tracy told me about his special project, “St Nicholas and the Dragon,” two years ago, and I never forgot about it. He was one of the first people I asked when I was building this bundle. I’m so glad to have this piece as part of it.

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