The Messengers of Yesh Web Address

Friday, January 17, 2020

Partial Cover Workaround

I have a cover for AoE. I'm waiting for final revisions. Ideally, I'd like to figure out how to translate my painting skills into something that would substitute for an illustrated cover. But that's going to take time and a certain amount of investment into materials like more paint and art pens. I need AoE and the Mystery/Romance out the door now. I have a couple of potential covers for the M/R, but neither are a great fit. I've looked at literally thousands of pre-made covers. Commissioning a custom cover is a little bit too expensive, especially for the M/R that I already have doubts about.

The person who made the AoE cover(pre-made) is offering a deal for the rest of the covers in the series. Those would be custom and cost more but not extravagantly more. Unless AoE takes off like a rocket, the B'vellah series is more important. I'm not sure when I'll write the AoE sequels. Maybe after the middle grade trilogy? However, in my email detailing the revisions for the AoE cover, I asked about covers for the B'vellah series. I kind of think it's too expensive, but if I could get the right style and discount, it would be cheaper than the other custom cover prices I've seen.
It would be super nice if I could update the cover for Book 1 and have the novella and Book 2 covers ready to go not long after. Book 2 is ready except for checking to see if a minor character I thought was dead was mentioned later in a scene.

The other good news is that I've started on the B'vellah novella. I have no idea what the title will be. So far, it's Book 1.5. I still don't have the plot entirely worked out, but the beginning is obvious. It picks up exactly where Book 1 left off on earth with the raid on Lakeside. When I went through Book 1 making a list of promises that need to be fulfilled, it told me what needs to be in 1.5. I just need to put it into story form in an interesting way. If I can get it all figured out and maintain a decent word count per day, the rough draft should be done around the end of February and probably sooner. Since it's only half the length of a full book, it should be a lot easier to move from rough draft to ready to publish. I'm taking a little extra care with polish to make it even smoother, although that's easy with the beginning since it has to be a certain way and won't be as subject to change the way later parts might.

Update:
I'm interrupting the blog for a live update. I got the revised cover back.


As a reminder, the book is about a 16-yr-old girl who is trapped in virtual reality. This was the only pre-made cover that fit the story and looks good and was affordable. I like it.
This should be up for pre-sale by Saturday night. I worked on setting it up last night, but I still need to add the cover designer to the front matter of the manuscript and resubmit it. I'll also need to set all the pricing and use Amazon's online tools to  create the e-book.

Along with the cover I heard back about the B'vellah covers. What I want is not really a fit for them. I got referrals to two other cover creators. I'll check them out. After sleeping on it, it occurred to me that I'll have at least a month while doing the rough draft to practice illustrating. I think I'll try that and hold off on buying covers I can't really afford. Unless I can get an amazing price, of course.

It feels like it's been a busy week.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Harvesting Ideas

Where do you get your ideas? Interviewers always ask writers that. Ideas are everywhere. It's hard to explain, but a lot of what happens during the day ends up on the page at night. If I had to swerve the buggy out of the way at the grocery store, that could end up as a car or pedestrian scene or something more abstract like insects or birds maneuvering around each other. Or it could be conversational maneuvering such as a character dodging a question. A reader would never read that and think it came from a shopping cart. It's kind of like the way daytime events end up in dreams symbolically. In that sense writing is like dreaming the story. I don't make notes about day events. They appear by themselves just like dream imagery.

Another way to get ideas is to pull them from movies or books but in a different form. This is something I haven't really done, but one evening this week I read a short book specifically to look at what caught my attention and why the book worked. I started out not looking for ideas. I was looking to analyze plot points and plot elements. I wanted to see how the author crafted secondary characters and used subplot and added quirkiness to the story.

One of the first things that happened was the main character was told her job wold be gone in four weeks. Instead of "loses job", I wrote down "unexpected life upheaval". Instead of copying it, I abstracted the concept of what losing a job is. In a story I'll need an unexpected life upheaval. The character probably won't lose a job. She might fail a pregnancy test. It could be a car accident. The manager at work could be promoted and the character's nemesis becomes the new boss. What if the mayor died or retired and someone with rumored ties to crime were running for the office? The upheaval could be anything that directly or indirectly affects the character's life.

After putting the book down a few minutes to do something else, I thought more about it. The main character is kind of a freelancer, and her husband has a great job. The upheaval isn't the end of the world. It isn't necessarily financial. She had other job opportunities already in place. The job was something she found truly meaningful. So, the real upheaval is a threat to happiness. It's a threat to the character's meaning and purpose in life. The job loss isn't just a plot point. It serves multiple purposes in the story. It has deeper resonance that the superficial. Without fulfilling a purpose in life, the character becomes adrift.

As I try to figure out a plotting style that feels right for me, it's things like this that I'm starting to think about. Maybe I need to watch movies and read books with an eye to abstracting certain elements.

This is also the kind of thing I want to make YouTube videos about. At some point I'll need to let the Messengers web site lapse and create a new one branded around my name instead. A YouTube channel is a natural fit for that. I'm still working on making a small area of a room dedicated to that.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Plotting Along

This week was a bit of an education week. I looked at plotting and other writing things. The other day I was expressing dissatisfaction with the three-act formula. I was saying that there's too much space between the beginning and plot point one at the 25% mark. At the end of November, I ordered this book after seeing it mentioned in a YouTube video. Since I'm not reading it in one sitting, I'm only a few chapters into it. One of the interesting things it mentions is that for books the first plot point should come around the 20% mark rather than the 25% mark. It also says that the third plot point should come later than in a movie. I think it said the 90% point instead of the 75% point. Obviously, that makes the middle absolutely huge. Even using 25% and 75% to mark off the middle, the middle is already huge and gives a lot of writers fits.

Instead of going with a pure try/fail cycle, I might try moving my plot points and keeping the three-act formula ending and beginning while using a try/fail cycle for the bulky middle. I'm not going to experiment on the novella that way. My plan is to use the three-act formula since the other books in the B'vellah War series all do. The middle grade trilogy is where I would tinker around.

This morning after I was awake but not out of bed I had an idea for a high-level-concept science fiction novel. It would be about a man who is trying to prevent a series of deaths that he knows are going to occur but doesn't know how his brain received the information. It ties very neatly to an experiment I read about several years back. Unfortunately, I can't remember the scientist's name, so I'll have to find him again. The novel would be stand-alone and not a series.

And that leads me to Scrivener, an organizational tool for writers. I downloaded a trial version several years back, but it wasn't a word processor. The good news about the trial version is that it only counts days that you use. I used it three days. I should still have 27 days left on my trial. What it would let me do is organize book ideas. Instead of putting my ideas into legal pads the way I do now, I could put them into Scrivener and develop a plot outline. It has a notecard feature I could use for pure ideas and still have an outline uncontaminated with clutter.

I have more book ideas than I have time to work on. What I want to do with Scrivener is input the ideas, perhaps using plot points, and add additional ideas later. Slowly over time, I would develop a book idea into something I could start writing immediately instead of having to work on it all at once the way I'm having to do with the novella, which still has not completely gelled. I have various book ideas I'd like to develop. I hope with Scrivener I'd be able to get all of them organized here and there without interrupting what I'm currently working on. Sometimes, I have an idea for something but no time for the book it's for. Maybe this tool will help. I'm going to experiment with it and see how it goes.

Scrivener would also let me work on screenplays more easily. I have an idea for a movie I'd like to work on.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Minor Update

This has been something of a research week. When I first started putting books on Amazon, the cover options were very limited. The way to do it yourself was to buy stock art and create your own. I did a search for that and discovered that it's now possible to buy thousands of pre-made covers in various genres. I've been looking through hundreds and hundreds of choices for AoE and the Mystery/Romance. Most of what I've seen is either too generic or too specific. Quite a lot of them look like more of the same. Why is there a wolf on that cover? Why are so many of the people facing away from the camera? Why do so many of the people project a negative attitude? Why do so many covers not present a scene or a story? Why are so many covers paranormal when that doesn't fit a genre? Why can't I find a cover that looks like it fits the market? I'm finding so many covers that rely on digital skills and not on art skills. It feels like such a waste of time to go through all of that, but it's still faster than trying to paint my own, especially since I'm not convinced my skills are up to that.

Most of the really good covers are too expensive. Another problem is that any cover I got for AoE would have to match the rest of the series. The Mystery/Romance doesn't have that problem. I'm reluctant to try to commission something, although I've looked at Fiverr, too.

Part of what I did this week was review modern comma rules. They've changed since I was in school. I studied that and took a couple of comma tests online and got 100% on both. I've finished going through AoE for commas. I could publish it today if I had a cover. I'm still going through the Mystery/Romance for commas. At some point I need to go back through all my books and update them for modern grammar.

If I can't find the perfect cover, my plan is to paint something as good as I can do and use my graphic tablet to tweak it as best I can. Even if it doesn't look like Michael Whelan, it would be better than most of the assembly line covers I've been seeing. I hope. Time is a concern. I'm a slow painter. I don't know every trick in the book.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Book 2 Update

Aging is Reversible. I haven't read all of this article yet, but the first part sounds good. At least two anti-aging treatments aside from that article are supposed to be available some time in 2020.

I finished going through Book 2 fixing things. After that I went through Book 1 looking for promises made to the reader. That would be things like foreshadowing and what the reader would expect to happen later that couldn't be changed. If I made a rule about something, I needed to refresh myself in order not to break it later. I'm going to have to go back through Book 2 later to fix some things I think I misstated. All of that is in preparation for the novella.

One of the problems with Book 2 is that it's set so long after Book 1. At the end of Book 1, I kind of wrapped things up and tried to convey the impression that most things would work out on their own. The idea was that I could mention them later as having been resolved. Since Book 2 is almost 3.5 years after Book 1, there's not much room to mention old things without it be awkward to the story. There's a lot of room for a novella to flesh out exactly how things were resolved between books and to make the transition between books smoother. It's almost like Book 1 and Novella 1.5 are a two-book series, and Book 2 and Book 3 are a two-book series.

As kind of a break on books 1 and 2, I've also been going through the Mystery/Romance. I need to get that and AoE out the door. AoE is science fiction more or less. I'm not sure the Mystery/Romance is a mystery or a romance. It could be suspense, but I'm not sure it quite fits that category either. I'm going to try to do a pre-release and let Amazon classify it based on who pre-orders it, assuming people actually do that. It has to go under a pen name, so it would be a lone book by an author no one has heard of.

The next step is to take my list of promises from Book 1 combined with what happens in Books 2 and 3 and work out a plot for the events in the novella. I know roughly what happens. I need to figure out how to make it interesting. I've been putting some thought into it. I just need to work it until it coalesces into something I feel would be engaging to the reader. I can't write it only because it needs doing. It has to be worth buying.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Novella

I've noticed a disturbing trend at Walmart. I'll find a new product and buy it. It'll be good. Several months later they'll switch the product out with a really cheap imitation. Now I've noticed another trend. A few months back I got a 2-pack of 48" LED lights for a fluorescent light fixture in the kitchen area One of them was longer than 48" and wouldn't fit, because there is absolutely no give to a light fixture. I had to take them back. This week I found the same problem with a surge protector. Out of six plug ins, only one would accept a plug. The other five are out of specification. Could I take it apart and try to fix it? Maybe, but it's going back instead.
Walmart has an ongoing quality problem. Maybe it's the manufacturers. Maybe it's greed. Maybe it's incompetence. I miss Made in America.


Book Stuff
Last week I presented two possible solutions to the Book 2 problem. One was to insert a novella(Book 1.5) into the series. The other was shifting the second half of Book 2 into Book 3, a move that would work very well, and writing a new first half for Book 2. The better solution is going with a novella. The reason is pacing. A new first half of Book 2 wouldn't read the same way. The transition between the first half and second would be too abrupt. They would be set about three years apart unless I revamped all the date references. I thought about making it have a Part 1 and Part 2 the way some books do, but nah. I think it would be better to make 1.5 its own book with its own pacing and its own story. That gives me more room in Book 3 for the finale and all the stuff going on. The problem now is figuring out how to make the story for 1.5 work. I have the basic idea, but it's not enough. I also have to figure out length. A normal book in this genre is going to run about 80k or more words with a page count around 300ish, depending on the margins in the paperback. I've seen novellas with 79 pages. No. That's too small. I'm thinking in the 40k to 50k range. That could give me 150 pages that wouldn't take nearly the amount of time as a full novel. At the moment I'm still going through Book 2 overhauling things.

In spare moments during the day, I've had some ideas for the new series idea I mentioned the other day. Ideally, this would be written after Book 3 is finished. Since going to the emergency room last year, I've gotten very little writing done. I'm feeling rusty. Part of the problem with Book 2 is that it uses the 3-act formula. It has plot points at specific places that have to be there, although there's some wiggle room. The 50% plot point could be a little early or a little late but not much. The same with the others. In the 3-act formula, the story takes off at the 25% mark. Up until then everything is setup for the rest of the book. In Book 2  the 25% mark is about page 75 or so. Things are happening before that, but it's not enough. That's just too many pages, especially in a book 2 where the settings and characters are generally known already. I don't particularly like the 3-act formula to begin with.

The more I think about the new series idea the more I'm wondering if I should target it to middle grade. That definition says middle grade is ages 8 to 12. Meh, I'm thinking the protagonist should be 13. In YA the characters start at age 15. If middle grade is 8 to 12, what about all the 13 and 14-year-olds? Anyway, the series idea could be set at any age. It would depend on the concepts in the book.

So, the page count for middle grade is 20k to 50k. I'm thinking about a series for middle grade that would have three books with over 26k words each. That's the length of an 80k novel. Instead of doing a novel, I could use the three short books to experiment with a plot structure that works for me. Maybe instead of using the first 25% as setup, I could start the action right away and fill in the details along the way. Basically, I'd be skipping to the 25% mark and using a try/fail cycle, perhaps with interludes of back story to fill in the gaps I created by skipping the setup. Or maybe I could have breathing spaces in between the action that fills in the setup. However it worked, 26k is really short. I could do a rough draft in a few weeks and see whether it's working or not.

But couldn't I experiment with the Book 1.5 novella? Maybe, but the rest of the series uses the 3-act structure. I'd rather stick with it, if I can. I'd rather use it to shake the rust off rather than do that plus experimenting.

An advantage of doing middle grade is that I could probably do cartoony cover art work. My art skills aren't up to professional illustration quality for a regular novel, but a kid book cover maybe I could do.

That's what's going on. At the moment it's all fixing Book 2 as far as writing goes.

I might kill the Messengers web site and create a new one branded around my name with the various series and books linked off of that. I'm also preparing for a YouTube channel. I've been painting and cleaning and throwing stuff away. I already have the lighting, although I might need to buy a new chair. I accidentally cut the fabric on the one I have when a piece of lighting rod fell into it.
There may be weeks where I do the blog and weeks where I link to a video. I'll have to see how it all works out.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Book 2 Solution?

This was a Book 2 week. Before, I'd been going through it looking for what to keep and what to save with the idea of adding a timeline that included Calliope that would replace whatever I cut. Along the way I was fixing things and polishing prose and dialogue not sure what I would cut and what I wouldn't. I thought the beginning was slower than Book 1. How could I fix that? Hmm, not sure. From plot point one to plot point 2 is much faster. It slows down some after that but not drastically. How to improve pacing? Hmm, I'll have to figure it out.

I think I have an overall solution. The more I work on Book 2 the more I think it doesn't need to be cut. It just needs an overhaul. However, the transition between it and Book 1 is sharp due to the almost 3.5 years that pass between books. The transition has to be fixed. A while back I read a series in which the author went back and added a novella between two books in a series and labelled it Volume 3.5 or whatever the number was. It wasn't essential to the series. It just filled in a gap in time between books and was something extra for readers. My new idea is to save Book 2 and add a novella( Book 1.5) after Book 1. That would save a whole lot of time and effort. All I have to do is develop a plot to cover events immediately after Book 1 and tie up any loose ends. That fixes the transition problem pretty nicely without taking the time for a complete rewrite. With that in mind I've already begun the overhaul of Book 2.

While I was typing this, I thought of another way to do it. Almost half of Book 3 is already written. Instead of a novella, maybe I could do a new first half for Book 2 and move the end of Book 2 into Book 3. Book 3 flows very smoothly out of Book 2, so it wouldn't be noticeable that they used to be two books. However, Books 2 and 3 use a three-act structure. Plot points would have to be fixed, or I could change it to a try/fail cycle. I've been contemplating switching from the three-act structure anyway. This might be my chance to experiment.

Thinking about which way to do it won't take time away from working on Book 2. It's something I can ponder away from the computer and write down notes for. The important thing I'm pretty sure I have a solution that works.

Have a great weekend.