There are no sweeter words to write on the first draft of a manuscript. Today, I finished the first draft of Rogue Academy #1: Iron Dawn. It’s 84,000 words. Long for a YA novel, but it’ll break 90,000 by the time I’m done. I tend to add into my manuscripts rather than take out. Now that I have the whole story down, I know what needs to be added and where. I know what can be foreshadowed and what can be cut. It’s a beautiful feeling.
I’m going to ignore the manuscript for the next five days to get ready for and go to the Washington State Toy and Geek Fest. I’ll be there with Books & Chains as a dealer. I’ll take one day off to sleep/rest, then I’ll spend the next ten days fixing the novel before I turn it in on July 15th.
This won’t be the last time I see the manuscript by a long shot. It will need to go through a reading by the Cat Labs fiction editor, the BattleTech line developer, and the BattleTech fact checkers. I hope that’s only two iterations of edits. Then a final polish. Then proofing. There may be another iteration of edits in there. I don’t know. We’ll see.
I’ll take a couple of days off to sleep after turning in Iron Dawn. Then I’ll begin the next project. Two of them actually; both Shadowrun.
The first is five flash fiction pieces for a podcast project. The second is my Shadowrun YA novella: A Kiss to Die For. I’m looking forward to digging into both projects. I love Shadowrun and I love new projects. They’ll be a good brain palette-cleanser for when Iron Dawn is returned to me with edits/revisions and I can look at it with fresh eyes and a critical mind.
Typing “The End” is always just the beginning of any novel. A sweet one. It is also the herald of something new to work on.
I’ve been back from Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop for two days. The first day was easily taken up with catch up work. Memories of the workshop flittered around my head like the cottonwood blowing in Laramie. Today is the first day of “normal” work. I’ve got a BattleTech novel to finish and I find all I want to do is read space opera and hard SF. I’m not going to succumb to the urge (yet). I’m delaying things by writing this AKA procrastination work.
I learned so much and had much of what I already knew confirmed. It’s nice to know I actually set up the Kember Empire almost exactly correct and I will always thank Yonatan Zunger for helping me with my SLING space travel via branes and gravitational waves. (Helpful to have once dated a theoretical physicist from Stanford back in the day.)
Even better, I got to talk to other authors about a space combat problem I knew I’d have coming up in Rogue Academy #2. Michael Mammay (author of Planetside) not only helped me work it out, he gave me a great idea on how to do it. That was one of the best things about this workshop: the caliber of people attending and the conversations we had in and out of class.
Our professors, Mike Brotherton and Christian Ready, were excellent teachers. Dynamic, playful, smart, engaging, and challenging. We got about a semester’s worth of cosmology science thrown at us in a week. Long days, too. Start at 10am and go until about 9-10pm every day with breaks in-between. I took 40 pages of notes. A lot of it was “Look up, X. It’s about Y if you need it.”
Also, I had the dubious honor of being interviewed by campus police because I didn’t go on the WIRO telescope visit due to personal biology.
*Everyone leaves for the WIRO telescope.*
Me: “I’m alone in a dorm building on a college campus. This is the beginning of a horror movie.” I sit in the 2nd floor lobby and read.
*20 minutes later, footsteps on the stairs. Campus security, teens doing walkthroughs. We startled each other.*
Me: “There’s the first tension breaker. Now I’m going to be murdered.*
*15 minutes later, lots of footsteps on the stairs. The teens and two cops come through, but don’t stop.*
*5 minutes later, all four of them come back to the 2nd floor lobby and surround me.*
*For the next 10 minutes, I’m interviewed by the cops on why I’m there, did I know anything about the pot smell, and where is everyone else? I explain who I am, where everyone else is (at the WIRO telescope), and that, no, I don’t smoke. They want to know what I write (“Genre fiction with a high body count”), and I end up giving all four of them my author card so they can look up my books later. Then I explain they all scared the crap out of me. The teens apologize.
After they leave, I debate about calling either of the professors, realize they aren’t even at the telescope yet, and I haven’t been arrested for existing. So, no. I’d tell them tomorrow.*
Me: “Now I’m really going to be murdered.” I go back into my dorm room, close and lock the door, then call the Husband because I’m so keyed up. We talk, then I write for a while.
That aside, Launch Pad is one of those once-in-a-lifetime workshop that really opened my eyes. The science is mind-blowing, the education is mind-opening, and the experience is the kind of thing that you’ll remember forever. If you get a chance, you should try to go. It’s hard to get into. I had to apply multiple times before I got in, but it is so worth it.
From now until I decide I want to stop doing this, I will be giving out a monthly “Jennifer Award” for the best new-to-me thing I read that month. This can be fiction or non-fiction. It can be an essay/article, a short story, a novelette, a novella, or a novel. It doesn’t matter when it came out. It only matters that this is the first time I read it and I thought it was the best thing I read all month. Yes, it is completely subjective and biased towards what I like to read.
The winner will receive a shiny digital badge and a $5 gift card.
May’s winner is “The Soul of Horses” by Beth Cato. It was first published in Clockwork Phoenix 5, edited by Mike Allen. This short story is available to read online right now from Mythic Delirium. I came across it while looking for something else. I don’t know what. However, it really stuck with me. It is a story about letting what you love go because you love it with all that you are.
Jan: Godfall and Other Stories by Sandra M. Odell
Feb: “When We Fall” by Kameron Hurley
Mar: The Alastair Stone Chronicles by R.L. King
Apr: Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys
May: “The Soul of Horses” by Beth Cato