Tag Archives: editing

RoW80 Update: After the Storm.

The past two days have been…interesting, if you couldn’t tell by the fact that my RoW80 update is a day late. Aside from my minor meltdown and applying for a perfect, bigger-than-expected, totally-in-love-with-it, vintage ’20s apartment (which I am waiting to hear back from with bated breath; the guy said he’d get in touch once all the paperwork is done, “probably” yesterday around six, but no call. If I don’t hear from him by five today, I’m pestering him. I want this apartment so bad.), I also went on a spastic rampage and almost changed the entire ending of Soulless. Let me offer a word of advice to my fellow authors: if you start having a grand scheme to change your book dramatically, stop and take a shower first. I was able to work out that what I have going on now makes way more sense, that the new idea was cool on the surface but would never work in the grand scheme of things, and I saved myself a lot of heartbreak by thinking about it first. That was a close one. I’m still probably going to cut one of my favorite parts from the book, but I’ll still be using it, just later in the book.

I was kind of a mess (again!) yesterday waiting for that call, but since it didn’t come in, I had to grapple with disappointment and fear that he didn’t like what he saw on the credit checks and decided already not to rent to us. I reasoned with myself and told myself he was probably waiting on a reference or something like that. Then, someone was talking about meditation on the radio, and I reminded myself that I’m living far too much in the future right now, neglecting the fact that the true path to happiness is to live in the moment. So I’m focusing on that right now, looking at the present, paying attention and enjoying what is going on now, and not worrying about what may be. I can’t control any of that. But I can control how I make today count, no matter what may be ahead of me.

But we’re not here for me to vent out all my nervous excitement and worry and hope about an apartment. We’re here for a RoW80 Update! Here’s my goals and how they’ve been coming along these last few interesting days:

Goal One: Soulless. Did I mention how I almost completely changed the ending? Yeah. That was interesting. It’s so surreal to change so much of a book before it’s published. I feel very good about the changes, but I really feel like I’m flying in blind, and I can’t thank my beta-readers enough for opening my eyes to some real big issues. I’m learning a lot, too. Next time, give yourself more time before the deadline and the beta-reads. You’ll want a second round, more than likely. The entire tone of the book has changed, some of the “bad guys” turned into good guys, and one character even completely changed genders. I’m almost a little glad I gave myself a deadline when I did, because if there were more revisions, I might change even more of it completely.

Also, I’m finding it surprisingly difficult to put together my back cover blurb. When you’re writing pulpy apocalyptic zombie fiction with a side of steampunk, it’s really hard to describe it in one paragraph without sounding super cheesy. Maybe I should just put “Pulpy Apocalyptic Zombie Fiction with a Side of Steampunk.” I’d read that if I saw it on a back cover.

Goal Two: Short Stories. The Torn Pages deadline is coming up fast, so I’m really focusing on finally getting that story out, especially now that I have a new concept that I think is really cool and interesting. Other than than, I’m brushing the dust off my list of contests and submissions to keep an eye out for the next deadline.

Goal Three: Heartless. Heartless is at a little bit of a pause right now There’s a scene in Soulless I’m considering moving out of the first book and into the second, and whether or not I do that changes a lot of what I’m working on right now, so it’ll be a day or two before I decided. Until then, it waits.

Nothing too exciting, as you can see. Most of my energy is going decidedly into Soulless, as it should. It’s almost ready to go into formatting, but not quite yet. So I better get back to work. If you haven’t already, be sure to swing by here and support my fellow RoWers!

Happy writing!

ROW80 Update: Back on Track.

Shhh. Quiet. Do you hear that? That soft little breath of a sound, like a sigh? That’s my world coming slightly back together so that I can return to focusing on what really matters and not stressing the fuck out about everything. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m still stressing out. But at least now I can stress out and also manage to get stuff done. So here’s my RoW80 check in for this beautiful Wednesday at the start of a comfortable stretch of glorious days off (and no closing shifts!!). Here’s how my goals have managed to get back on track yesterday and this wonderful, wonderful morning:

Goal One: Soulless. The edits have been daunting, and, for a while, I was really worried that these rewrites would be as messy as the first draft, making it a pretty much moot point, but, no. I believe what I have in Soulless now is a much better book by a significant margin. Really, the key is good old KISS – Keep It Simple, Shithead. I have a clearer perspective on what will be happening in the next books, too, which is helping me understand what’s important and what’s not. I’m a little bit past half-way, that rough, murky middle I’ve complained so much about, and I finally feel it’s something worth reading. Full speed ahead to the end!

Goal Two: Short Stories. I’m still kind of itching uncomfortably about two stories that I think may actually have a chance (how is it that a month seems to be forever when it comes to this goal, and not long enough for the goal up above?), and I’ve really been putzing around on some new material, but I hope to make some head-way these next few days. I’m going to try to wrangle in and focus on my Torn Pages story, once and for all, and get it in well before the deadline. Or right at the deadline. It will be turned in, though, dammit.

Goal Three: Heartless. As excited as I am about all the pieces falling into place, Heartless is lagging a little bit, too, as I struggle to juggle my writing time between this and the previous goal. I’m making myself write a little bit before bed again, which is helping me get back in the groove, so, hopefully, this will be plugging along as usual, too.

So, I really feel I broke some ground with my main goal, and, though the other goals have been dwindling, they haven’t been fully neglected. These next few days will really help me out, I think. How’s everyone else doing? Did you get a chance to check out some of my fellow Rower’s posts here? ‘Cuz you should!

Happy writing!

RoW80 Update: Everybody wants to go to EXIT.

Yes, this is Monday, and RoW0 check-ins are on Sunday, but I wasn’t around much Sunday because Saturday, I went to Exit. Exit is a really seedy, old, late-night (or is it early morning?) punk bar in Chicago, and it’s pretty freaking awesome. The title of this post comes from an epic exchange where a very, very, very drunk friend attempted to keep the night going by proclaiming that everyone wanted to go to Exit, when no one wanted to go to Exit. However, today, my boyfriend’s roommate leaves for this soul-searching hippie commune adventure in Missouri, so we needed to send him off in style. Especially since we’ve all get bets placed on whether or not he even comes back.

Now, ever since I hit thirty, like a friggin’ switch, I haven’t been one to drink much. I like wine and froofy cocktails, a few microbrews and hard ciders, but that’s about it, and those aren’t usually the offerings that go good with an outing to Exit, so I didn’t really drink much (plus, booze costs money, which I don’t have). Half the time I’m there, I’m just watching whatever B-horror-sci-fi gem they have playing on the TVs (alas, no sci-fi horror this time around, though. Dumb & Dumber and Fists of Fury, though…). It was also pretty quiet since it was a rainy, rainy night in Chicagoland. Still, for someone who’s usually in bed by eleven, a sojourn to Exit means a night way past my bedtime. Plus I worked that evening, so my brain just wasn’t in this whole writing biz. Which is fine, because I’ve been trying to let myself be okay with the fact that there will be days when I don’t write, and the world moves on.

That said, there’s not too much to report on except the usual steady progression of my goals. I’ve really settled into a rhythm that works for me, with most of my work being done at the beginning of the week, and things going a little looser during the weekend. Here’s a slightly closer look at how things transpired.

Goal One: Soulless. Now this one has been a little interesting, because I’ve had to make a lot of changes with how things were happening in light of the new chapters and the fact that what I had before wasn’t really that great. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the new events of the first big battle are as effective to the reader as I hope they will be and that motives are much clearer now. I’m almost to the half-way point of this edit, which is extremely exciting, and today also marks a month until it’s release. It’s going to be a very busy 30 days!

Goal Two: Short Stories. This one has been giving me some trouble, as might be expected when I’ve got “revision blinders” on. But work has been deadly slow during my shifts, so I’ve been scribbling away at my Torn Pages submission. The biggest problem is that I keep coming across a lot of really fantastic prompts I want to take advantage of, such as Chuck Wendig’s @YouAreCarrying challenge. If it weren’t for the fact that I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to stories right now, it would be a full-on battle of Muse vs Deadline going on over here.

Goal Three: Heartless. It’s a good thing I went back and decided to rewrite Heartless from the beginning, because all the changes I’m making in Soulless are changing what I thought Heartless would be, and all for the better. Before, it was just a “transition” book where I didn’t expect a lot would happen, but the recent change of a character from a bad guy to a good guy and the development of another character has helped me put together a firm plot for Heartless that it didn’t have before. I’m pretty stoked to write it now, especially if the reception on certain characters once Soulless is out. The readers who like that particular part of the book are going to love the second book. It’s so great seeing a series come together like this.

So, there you have it, not my usual productive Monday, but I’m pretty much caught up and ready to bring it back on Tuesday. For as behind as I feel, it was really good to just have some time off for a little bit and enjoy myself. If you haven’t yet, don’t forget to drop in on my fellow RoWers here!

Happy writing!

Tunnel Vision.

I’m starting the think that the worst thing about being in the last stages before a new book come out is that you get tunnel vision, and all you really see in front of you is that book and its release. For that book, that’s a good thing. You need that tunnel vision to make sure you reach the end. For other things, though, like blog posts or other stories or even networking, it’s not nearly so good.

Right now, I’m in an awkward point in the process where most of my energy needs to be expended on this project, but it’s still too soon to really start promoting it and talking about it and planning for the blog tour and what have you. I’m not spending a lot of time writing other things, I’m not spending a lot of time visiting as many blogs, I’m not even spending that much time reading. It’s mostly a lot of editing and rewriting and a few little games and fun here and there to keep myself from going insane. Which means i don’t really have much to talk about here in the blog. Oh, sure, I’ve let go of the fact that I don’t need to be posting every day. Most of my readers know I’m elbow-deep in revisions. But I still like I should post something, even if I’m not sure of what.

(Notice how the “I want to post, but I don’t know what to post about” topic is always a good fail-safe).

Does anyone else feel like they get total blinders on when they’re nearing the end of a big project? Do you just accept them and put the petal to the metal until you reach the finish line? Or do you have anything you do to help engage yourself in the wide world outside your WIP? I’d love some thoughts and insights, as usual, especially if it helps me engage in something beyond the endless editing.

(Edit: This is my 666th post. I wish I’d have done something spookier. So, I’m also throwing it out there for you, dear readers, to share something spooky in celebration of my 666th post).

ROW80 Update: Too Soon?

I always feel a little funny about the first RoW80 update of a round, usually because it comes up so quickly that you haven’t really done much or gained any traction on your goals. So I thought about skipping this one, as I only posted my goals on Monday, but I really didn’t have much else to post today, so here it is, anyway. A rather tiny little update, though, typically, Monday and Tuesday are my most productive days. So let’s break it down, as usual, shall we?

Goal One: Soulless. With the new chapters added, editing is going really smoothly, right on schedule and keeping a good pace. I have to admit, one of the cool things about editing a chapter you’ve done well is feeling so proud when you come out of it thinking, “Man, that was good!” The fact that I’m still tweaking here and here shows how much work is still left to go, though!

We’re honing in on a cover, too, so I need to start thinking of my back-cover blurb to send to my artist so we can get that finished, as well. I want August to get here just so I can show you the amazing work she’s done with a Cover Reveal! It’s very unique and different, yet also a classic throwback to the Gothic horror I loooove. Granted, I think it might be a little “misleading,” as many people feel the cover for Bowlful of Bunnies is, but, meh. I likes what I likes.

Goal Two: Short Stories. I thought up a little yarn for Weird Bard’s Torn Pages contest. It isn’t very good and it might not even really fit the theme or what they’re looking for too well, but it ends July 31, so it’s worth a try to pull something together. If anything, there’s another story to add to the revolving door of pieces to keep brushing up and sending it, and then gathering all together for my own book if no one else is interested in finding a home for it. I really want to push to get a lot of new stories out this round, so I think I’m off to a good start.

Goal Three: Heartless. As messy as the subsequent chapters were, I really do love the prologue to Heartless. Something about a little girl being a bad-ass will always be awesome to me. Plowing along on the slight rewrite of the prologue, and then the challenge of the rest of the book will come along. I’m excited to implement some of the ideas borne from the new chapters of Soulless, though.

How about you? Are you hitting the ground running this round, or are things off to a slow start? Either way, you can catch up with everyone else by checking their posts here (which I highly recommend you do!).

Happy writing!

RoW80: Round 3 Goals.

It’s July 7th! Know what that means? A Round of Words in 80 Days Round 3! Starting now and running until…erm, 80 days from now, RoW80 touts itself as “the writing challenge that knows you have a life.” I’ve been in love with this community since I first discovered it years ago, and I’m thrilled to be tackling another challenge that truly has helped me to move forward with my writing career. What do I hope to accomplish this round? Let’s have a look-see:

Goal One: Soulless. Since The Slayer Sage: Soulless is set to be released on August 15th, this goal won’t get me through the full 80 days, but, until then, it’s my top priority. My goal is to edit at least a chapter every day. I want to be revising and fine-tuning this thing until the very last moment…and I’ll need to. During the “break,” I’ve written up three whole chapters (approximately 30 pages in my little notebooks) to fit in towards the beginning that changes the scope of the rest of the book a little, so I’ve really got to work in that new tone and some of the new details. It’s kind of amazing how different a book it’s going to be than what my beta readers read, though the changes are heavily based on their suggestions. For that, I’m utterly grateful to them. Changing a book this much in about a month is daunting as hell, but it’s also exciting and keeping me really chugging along full speed towards the finish line.

Keep an eye out for posts looking for people to help spread the word about the book once we get closer to August. I’d really love it if anyone would want to do an interview or join in on the cover reveal or even book reviews once we get to that point.

Goal Two: Short Stories. Just like last round, I’ll be striving to finish and shop more short stories out in the great publishing wilderness. Lately, because of those three added chapters, I haven’t been touching many shorts, but that should change now that I’m back to full-on editing mode with Soulless. Besides, I have all my current wheelhouse out in the ether at the moment, six stories all together, one of which got passed on up to the next level of editing. Really, you can’t ask for much more than that. Although ten shots is more likely to hit than six. And twenty is more likely to hit than ten… My goal here is to get a short story written (and submitted somewhere!) every day. The usual goal. I rarely make it. But I’ll keep striving.

Goal Three: Heartless. Due to the changes in Soulless, I have to go back and restart the progress I’ve made on the next book, Heartless. No big loss there, it’s only a few chapters in, and some of them I’ll reuse, but the focus shifted a little and I was heading into some messy territory. My goal is at least a page a day, which is rarely a problem for me. I’ve got plenty of time to get the rough draft finished before its release day in August of 2015.

Goal One-Point-Five (To be taken up after August 15): Serpent in a Cage. SiaC‘s rough draft has had time to marinate; my brain has had time to separate itself from it, so once Soulless is dressed up and out the door, I will return to it and attempt to edit it and cross my fingers in the hopes that it doesn’t call for a fourth completely new re-write. I shall attempt to edit a chapter a day.

Second verse, same as the first, really, with a few alterations here and there. Really, my goals are pretty steady. I’ve found something that works astonishingly well for myself, and I intend to stick with it for the next two years, when the entirety of The Slayer Saga will be complete. Then I might have to focus on a different approach, but, until then, it’s steady as she goes.

Be sure to check out the goals of my fellow RoWers here and cheer them on voraciously!

Happy writing!

RoW80 Update: Reflections and Conclusions.

Round 2 of this year of A Round of Words in 80 Days has officially concluded, and there’s a little bit of time before the next one starts (July 7th! It’ll be here before we know it). A time to reflect and relax and rethink our goals and motivations. It’s also a time to look back and see exactly how much (or little, as the case may sometimes be) we accomplished in the past eighty days. I have to admit, when I look back on the last eighty days, I’m a little bit astounded by what I managed. It was a good round, a very, very good round.

So what did I accomplish?

Soulless. I finished the first book of The Slayer Saga pretty early in the round, typed it up, and got through my first edits. Then I sent it out to beta readers, and now I’ve got about a month and a half to put the finishing touches on it, get a cover fashioned up, and format it for an exciting release on August 15th. A good portion of Round 3 will likely be focused on marketing the crap out of it. Be prepared toward the end of July for me to do some shout-outs for people who would like to do interviews/reviews/run naked through the streets with a banner and a bullhorn…

Serpent in a Cage. Version 3.5 (and hopefully there will be no 4.0! I’ll accept a 3.75, though) has been completely typed up and transcribed! When Soulless is out of my hair for a little bit, I might just start picking at editing it, though it might also wait until I’ve secured Heartless to be in a good spot for publication in August of 2015. Then there’s making sure Fearless is reading for 2016. So SiaC might be put off a little longer, and I’m okay with that. It’s my baby. The time has to be right, and this is not the right time for it.

Short Stories. In the course of this round, I managed to get three new short stories finished and sent out, one of which is actually in the final stages of review, so keep your fingers crossed! Toward the end of the round, I hit a little bit of a wall, in that it seemed I couldn’t get any new stuff out. I’ve got a few ideas now, though, so hopefully that will change, but I’m not stressing out about it too much, as Soulless is my main priority. I also found a journal that accepts previously published works of longer, novelette-size fiction, so I’m brushing up “The Mutineers of Starvation” to add to the mix.

All in all, I feel pretty damn good about this round. The best part about it, though, is that it’s helped me jump right back into the exciting, turbulent waters of the self-publishing world and reconnect with a lot of good friends and mentors. That’s the thing I’ve always loved about RoW80, it’s just as much about the community as it is about the goals.

So, how was Round 2 for you? Any particularly awesome successes? Anything that still needs some work? What have you got planned for Round 3? I know that, outside of getting Soulless out and on its feet, most of my goals will focus on Heartless and more short stories. I’ve given myself a goal of a delicious smoothie from work whenever I sell a story. They’re super addictive, so I better get to selling…

Happy writing!

I walk the line.

If you read my last RoW80 update, you’d have noticed I’m in a little bit of a funk, and, this morning, it hit me like a brick wall exactly why I’ve been feeling that way. I have to admit, it’s pretty uplifting to understand yourself so deeply that you can pinpoint the source of a problem, especially if that allows you to recognize it and work past it. The problem is that I am very much a linear author: when I start a story or a book, I start at the beginning and, when I get to the end, I stop. Seems pretty basic, right? Well, I know there’s a lot of authors out there who work differently, work by scenes, write things as the muse comes to them and worry about putting them together later. They can write the beginning, jump to the end, write something for the middle, and then compose something to go with the beginning again. I…can’t do that. I’ve tried, on occasion, but it never seems to work for me. I start at one point and go along as the story progresses.

When I went through the first edits of Soulless, I knew I’d be adding at least one more chapter. The response from beta readers confirmed that it needed to be added, and then I started writing it and realized that it’s probably going to be at least two more chapters. And that’s okay. It’s adding some very important world-building and character development details, but I realize that I’m having a lot of difficulty writing them, despite knowing what’s going to be in them, because I’m writing them out of order. It’s throwing me off, making it difficult for me to really work on it. Thus my current funk. Everything is all off because I’m doing things in a way that I wouldn’t normally like to do them.

And that’s a good thing. If I want to move on, if I want to have this ready by my August 15th deadline, then I have to forge through something that’s uncomfortable for me, and I’ll be a better writer because of it. It isn’t easy, but I’m constantly preaching the importance of striving forward despite the difficulties, so now I’ve got to put my money where my mouth is. Will I be able to pump out the chapter a day that I was previously mastering? Hahaha, not a chance. But I’ll get there, and then, after the hiccup, it’s back to smooth sailing and editing and I’ll have a much stronger book for it.

Anyone else feel the need to write their stories in a linear fashion? Or do you write better writing the scenes in a different order and putting them together later? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

ROW80 Check-In: Move Along, Folks…

It’s Wednesday, time for another exciting RoW80 update!!! Okay, maybe not so exciting as all that, but I feel that’s how I know something is being done right. There’s not a lot to say because things are moving steadily along, getting done, and keeping on track. Awesome for productivity; not so awesome for interesting blog posts.

Which means I’m going to hit you with an ad. Because there’s this nifty little Kickstarter Campaign for Soulless going on. I’m only $70 away from my goal, though more would help make The Slayer Saga kick off in style. There are a lot of really great promotional incentives for fellow writers, though I realized the incentives aren’t very helpful for readers in general, in which case you can always donate a little here. Every little bit counts!

Actually, since typing this up (sometimes, I type up posts a day or two in advance, because you never know when you might be short on time and need to have something ready to just throw up), some kind soul donated $75! The Kickstarter goal has been reached! However, I lowballed my goal big time, so I could still use a lot of extra money to make Soulless the best it could be. If you have the chance, check it out, share it with your friend, etc, etc, etc. If I manage to hit a high goal of $800, I might even be able to make it to a convention this year to promote my work, which would be amazing (and especially good for spreading the word about World Unknown Review before it’s published, which is always good.

Okay, so, that’s over. Let’s have a look at my goals since last check-in:

Goal One: Serpent in a Cage. Somehow, I messed up the formatting on my Google Drive, so I’ve spent most of the week thus far trying to figure out how to get it back and, once I couldn’t get it back, changing the font on my slow ass computer because I didn’t like how the change made the last font look. I don’t know. I’m weird like that. It was a huge time-suck, but I managed to still pull that off and get the chapters typed up. Gooooo me.

Goal Two: Short Stories. I’m plugging away at a ghost romantic story right now, which has been going pretty well. It’s not exceptional, but it isn’t bad either, for a Roane Publishing collection. I’ve also got four stories floating around in the ether right now, so, while I’m not hitting my ideal “story a day” goal, I’m standing on pretty solid footing.

Goal Three: Heartless. This has been going really well, too, definitely getting out more than just a page a day. I also worked the characters from the first book that I wanted to see more of into the story already, so I’m pretty pleased with how it’s moving along, though it does make me eager to get my edits of Soulless back from my awesome readers.

So, as I said, pretty solid with the goal-keeping, so not too terribly interesting of a post. But I bet there’s some more interesting post from my fellow RoWers here, so check them out.

Happy Writing!

RoW80 Check-In: Call for Beta Readers!

Today’s Round of Words in 80 Days check-in is going to be a little bit different from my usual ones. First of all, there will be no breaking down of goals (although, really, I only have two main goals this round, so that basically means I won’t be talking about one of them). Because today is a day of celebration and a day to focus on the accomplishment of one main goal. Are you ready for this? Brace yourselves. It’s gonna be big…


I have before me a document that is primed and ready to go through a few more revisions, and then it’s off to the formatting and those last final steps to have it published and ready to sell. I am stoked! But I need some fresh new eyes on it before I can pick through it a second time, to get some thoughts and ideas on it as a whole, as well as some nitpicking on grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, word use, etc, etc, etc. In other words, I need me some beta readers! Please let me know, either here in the comments or via email (ellis.engler@gmail.com) if you’re interested. Here’s what I’d need from you:

-The ability to get through as much as the manuscript in about a month. I’d like to publish in July, meaning I’ll need to have my final edits and formatting done by the end of June. If you think you can have the whole thing read and critiqued (or, heck, even just a big portion of it) by JUNE 27th (if not earlier), please let me know! The manuscript is about 93 WordDoc pages, approximately 57000 words.
-A keen eye for grammar and punctuation errors, as well as clunky phrasing, awkward dialogue and phrasing, and just any rough spots in the text. I want honest readers who will point out the parts of the book they think should be changed/improved upon before it hits print.
-The ability to mark suggested changes without changing the document itself. I have the manuscript on Google docs, where others with the same program might be able to make comments in the margins or highlight trouble spots. If you have a program that allows you to do the same with your own document, we can do that too. Actually, even just a write up detailing suggestions would also work, though being able to comment on a document might be a little easier.
-The potential to contribute a blurb about the book for the cover. This, naturally, isn’t a requirement, but if you’d like to offer something to help me promote the book and have your comments appear on the cover, I’d greatly appreciate it.

For the most part, that covers it. Please let me know if there are any questions. And a big giant whopping thanks in advance to anyone who is willing to spare some time helping me improve my book. I’ll more than likely try to throw in a free copy for you once it’s published, and plenty of gratitude and recognition in the book itself.

And, if you’re in the mood to read something, but don’t want to make it through a whole rough draft of a novel, head on over to here and check out some of my fellow RoWers. Happy writing, everyone!



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