Yes, I know, it’s been awhile since my last post. The fact is, I’ve been pulled away and have had very little time to do much writing. This does not mean that I’ve shelved everything aside forever. In fact, I made progress yesterday on my latest novel! After having put it aside until things settled down a it, I decided I couldn’t let it sit any longer.

This post is not just about my latest project, but also a note to other authors just starting out on their first works. So here is my advice in a nutshell: Don’t let a project sit for awhile. Yes, I know this goes against some other advice of walking away to clear the mind. I admit, sometimes it is necessary. In my case, it was just that I had been too busy to focus on it. Now, I am facing the reality of trying to get back into the groove of the story. I find my ideas tend to flow better when I’m in the middle of my work. If I let it set too long, it is harder for me to get back into the process of writing. The longer it sits, the longer it will take me to get in the writing mode.

The good news is that I broke the procrastination phase I had wedged myself into and began to write again. My next novel will be a full length novel and I’m currently around 42,000 words. I tend to write a little differently than others where I like to get my structure down first.

When I think of a story, I generally know where it will begin and where it will end. I tend to get the beginning down and as I do this, additional ideas come to mind. I don’t focus on a word count goal, but instead hone in on the structure. In the end, I usually am short on word count compared to other works. This is because I don’t focus too much on the details to start with. The next phase is where more detail is drawn around the story.

With the structure in place, I then go through my story and find weak points or areas that need more detail and start the process of what I think of as the inflation phase. This is where I add meat to the story – maybe even side stories. I might even create new characters that I think the story needs to add more color.

My last phase is a cutting phase. Here I go through and cut where I think I might have added to much from the prior phase. This is what I consider the editing phase which usually turns out to be around three full edits. This is the hardest part for me, but the most necessary.

Looking at this phased approach, I would say I’m in the first phase of writing the structure. Still a long way to go, but I’m determined not to shelve it again!

 

Confession

OK, so I have a confession to make…and it’s a doozy. I have not yet started writing the next book for Conduit. Gasp! I know….I deserve a kick in the butt. I have however mapped most of what I intend to have in the sequel to the first book. It’s all stored safely away in one of the dusty vaults in my mind.

Do I have an excuse? Sure! I have a bunch. Get ready for the sob story and queue the violin.

First, writing is an escape for me – a way to get away from the typical work week that I put in that actually supports me and my family. So unfortunately, work has to come first for me and it’s eating up my time and has become extremely busy of late. Second, I do have a two year old daughter who is a treasure and I don’t want to miss a moment of her toddler life – even at the terrible two’s stage that she is going through filled with tantrums and crying fits. Honestly, aside from the really bad mood days, the terrible two’s aren’t so bad. Third, it is summer time and whatever time I get, I like to be a lazy bum like everyone else out there. Yes, I’m sure there are those that will tell me that I need to write everyday for x amount of time – but I’m human, not a machine.

So have I been completely lazy and will I never write another story? Heck no! In fact I’m still busy getting my novella, “Beautiful People” ready to go – I’m aiming for fall this year. I’m really excited about this story as it really fits to a lot of what is happening with society today. Now here is the exciting part if you’ve managed to make it this far in my rambling: I will be following a slightly different release plan for this story and will first load the book to Smashwords. This means that I can offer coupons for free on advance copies as a contest promotion. I will cover the details around the free copies in another post shortly.

I’ve also been working on a long running novel about alternate timelines – which still remains to be titled. I’m approximately 40,000 words in and believe I’ll finish the story with at least 60,000 words. I don’t usually talk about word counts because I’ve grown to believe that word counts and setting targets of word counts are a thing of the past. I don’t want to be an author who fills pages upon pages of extra wording in order to satisfy a word count target. The story is complete when the story is complete – regardless of how many words are in the book. I only reference the word count as a way to gauge how complete I think this story is – roughly 67% on the first draft. Yes, still more to go but I’m getting there.

Hopefully some of the above explains my absence from the blog and lack of news surrounding the sequel to Conduit: The Beginning. I promise I’m working my way into picking up where the first story left off. There is a lot to add and it will be worth the wait.

I finally have taken the plunge and set up my account on Twitter.  It’s still amazing to me that I have successfully avoided the Twitter craze for as long as I have.  It also amazes me how ignorant I am to how it all works.

Setting up my profile was very easy to do with the hardest part being the process of deciding on a username that wasn’t already taken: JamesAlexander – No, James_Alexander – No (How many of me are out there?), Alexander_James – No, JAlexander – Of course not, I even tried James_Alexander1979 – No again.  At that point I banged my head against the keyboard, mashing all the keys and leaving strange indents in my forehead to get username laksdjfajofiwej and guess what?  If you guessed it wasn’t taken, you’re right.  But why would I want that for a username?

In the end, I wound up with JAlexander_2012.  I know – not extremely original, but better then laksdjfajofiwej.

With all that out of the way, I proceeded to upload my photo – which I had to resize multiple times to get Twitter to accept.  Proud, I leaned back in my chair admiring my handiwork.  And there it was.  The number 0 staring back at me for the number of tweets I have made.  I needed to take care of that immediately!  140 characters are all I need.  That should be easy!

*Crickets*

OK, 140 characters and NO followers listed.  What do I tweet about?  I never realized I’d have that dilemma.  So I thought to myself, Really?  C’mon!  You can do this!

*Crickets*

Finally, with no genius ideas coming to mind, I decided I’d do what I do when I write and hit a wall of self-doubt or a block – just write anything!  This is what my first tweet was (Get ready!  It’s amazing!):

“This is the first tweet of my life!”

Yes, lame.  I know.  But it did get the ball rolling – at least until my next tweet.  So there is my writing tip – buried in this post.  If you don’t know what to write or are in a block – write.  Who cares if it’s garbage?  It can always be edited later.  True, in my case, my first Twitter post will haunt me forever, but I’m proud of it.  First, I’m on Twitter, which I never thought I would be, second, I pushed past my First Twitter Post phobia, and third, I can’t post any worse of tweet than that.  So my only way is up from there.

I’d love some followers on Twitter where I will be posting news on my current work as well as cool things about my projects I have already completed.  Who knows – maybe someday I’ll post something witty!