I’d Like to Buy an ‘O’ – Edit All the Things

You haven’t experienced fun until you’ve spent some time redesigning your covers for maximum awesomeness, cleaning the edges and making sure all the elements align correctly, creating jpg and png versions as well as smaller png files you can use for ad stock, uploading the new covers to Amazon, and waiting patiently until the changes get propagated around the world. The truly fun part, though, the one that I’ll look back on and laugh about at some distant point in the future, is getting everything up and running and having someone tell you there’s a typo on the cover text.


There are a whopping sixteen words on that cover – and two of them are my name. One of them is misspelled. I guess I got too wrapped up in the awesome to notice a missing O. Fortunately it’s easy to delete a tweet, pull it from my Facebook wall, delete the image from Tumblr, fix the image, re-upload to Amazon, and get a new copy updated on this blog.

Still. ~Sigh~.

Here’s the fixed copy. Extra special thanks to Kevin MacMaster for so rapidly pointing out the typo.


The moral of the story? Edit all the things.

There comes this moment…

When the book is written and all the words are there on the digital pages and they’re all glaring at you and you can’t help but think “What the hell did I ever do to you?”

Writing a book is pretty much like anything else; it’s a process.  The more you do the process the better you get at it – theoretically at least.  I always like to tell the kid’s Kenpo class “You’ll perform in a fight exactly like you practice.”  And that right there is the rub.  Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.  It’s a honing process.

I was never taught how to write a book.  My high school English teacher hated me.  My college English teacher didn’t even bother to hide her disdain.  My junior high English teacher was actually pretty good.  It was her tutelage that I lean on when I write and it’s her words that I’m trying to hone.  When I look back on learning about writing it’s her I look back on.  Sadly, I don’t even remember her name.  If, however, she ever stumbles across this post and remembers me out of the thousands of students she had, I’d just like to say, “Thank you.”

She taught me enough that I can string a few words together into something approaching a coherent sentence and with that foundation I’ve written a couple books that at least a few people thought were enjoyable.  That’s a really big deal to me and it makes me extremely happy to know that I might have made the world a slightly better place.  Albeit by writing about mysterious gods and oodles of killing.

It’s the little things in life that matter the most.

So, here I am.  The Clock Man is written.  All the words are there, but they’re still glaring at me because some of them are out of order, some of them aren’t the right words, and some of them are just generally in a pissy mood.  Words are like that; they’re easily perturbed.

Now comes the editing part.  I have a dysfunctional relationship with editing.  On the one hand it’s a chance to read back through and realize it’s not quite as bad as I thought it was when I was writing it.  On the other; there are those moments where I stop, scratch my head, and wonder just what the hell I was thinking when I wrote something.  Thank God for friends.  I passed The Clock Man off to a fellow writer and she came back with some excellent points.

Now all I’ve got to do is implement those points.

So, there comes this moment when all the words are there and they just need to be shuffled around.  The book is done, but it’s not done done.  Done done happens when all the words are there, they’re in the right order, and neatly formatted.  Then the book will be done done.  Right now, I’m only done.  I’m looking forward to being done done.  Once I’m done done, I can start writing again.  I miss writing but editing is still an important part of the process.  Someday there will come this moment when it will be done done.

And then the whole process will start all over again. 🙂

Do. Don’t. Don’t.

I know a lot of authors have set quirks, things they do while they’re writing.  Some will always start and end a book with a glass of a particular wine or only like to work at the Starbucks on Central.  I tend to kick back on my couch, prop my trusty Asus laptop on my legs and just go for it.  I don’t have specific rules for how much I write every night, but I try to write something every night.  There are nights when that will be a couple thousand words and there are nights when I’m lucky to get a couple sentences to line up on the page.  The last couple nights have been “lucky to get a couple sentences out” nights.  I think I managed to get a woman to shoot an arrow and a dragon to slide smoothly out of the woods.

I really only follow three rules while I’m writing.

  • Do: Just write it down.  Keep going until the whole thing is on the page in some form or another
  • Don’t: Edit while writing.  Unless something pops up that absolutetly needs to be changed, editing is for the editing phase.
  • Don’t: Format the book.  That’s the absolute last thing that needs to happen and formatting too soon (other than things like chapter breaks) will break as writing and editing continue.

There you go.  Three simple rules for the writing phase.  Do Write.  Don’t Edit.  Don’t Format.  Focus on the writing and don’t worry about the rest until it’s time.  There will be times when you absolutely hate what you’re writing and want to toss the computer across the room and take up goat herding but just keep going.  Trust me on this one.  I’ve gone to bed thinking it was time to quit writing because of the drivel on the page.  When I woke up the next morning things looked a lot different.

Just keep going.  You can sort it out in the editing phase.

Don’t trust me?  Okay, I don’t always trust me, either, but maybe you’ll listen to Stephen King.




The sequel to Henchmen will be called Arise rather than Henchmen: Arise.  The compound title just didn’t work for me.  That story is done, edited, changed, edited, modified, edited, and pretty much ready to go.  I’ve got one guy still doing a beta read and I’d like his input before I publish, so I’m holding off for the time being.  I’m pleased with the way it turned out, but knowing me I’ll make another pass or two through it before I publish.

After I was mostly done with Arise I looked back through Henchmen, looking for some bit of trivia I had forgotten and was thoroughly disgusted at what  I found.  There are some good moments in that novel, but damn, the intro sucks ass.  So, since Arise is coming out I decided to do some clean up on Henchmen.

I’ve been doing clean up for nearly a month now.  It’s got a whole new first chapter, huge parts of the second and third chapters have been stripped out or rewritten (or both).  I hadn’t really doubted it, but some of the criticisms I got were spot on: takes to long to get started and is very ambiguous about the formation of the group.  It starts with more of a bang now, there’s more interaction between the characters, less exposition, and generally more reasons why things are happening.

I’m tentatively targeting late November for re release of Henchmen and release of Arise.

Editing is hard

Back when I was in college and was actively having to write papers about every damned thing in the Speech Communication field, I usually wrote a paper (some on typewriters!  Others on old word processors!) and just slapped my name on it and turned it in.  In my defense, editing things that came from typewriters could mean having to retype half the paper if you found a mistake or wanted to change something.  Even working with the old word processors – you know, the things that looked like typewriters but let you save and edit your work on a two line LED screen – was a huge pain in the ass.

You young punks have it so easy today! 🙂

Anyway, up until I wrote my thesis (Argumentation Structure and Theory in Collegiate Parliamentary Debate, read by nearly ten people now), most of my papers were done on whatever I could find to turn the words into a block of paper and I never really spent much time editing.  It was just too heinous.  The thesis was written in WordPad on an old Windows 95 box and was edited eight ways to Sunday because it had to go through almost everyone at my college and they all had to make some change somewhere.  It took months to get the damned thing edited.

So, last year, I knocked out Henchmen with largely the same philosophy.  It was rife with typos and logic flow errors and “what the hell was I thinking here” errors.  In short, the first draft was what can only be colloquially described as “a hot mess.”  After weeks of back and forth with my lovely wife editing and me revising, I finally released something that was only a tepid mess, maybe a lukewarm mess in certain places.

This time around, I spent more time trying to catch errors while I was writing, and have been going back through the thing with a fine-toothed comb.  At about 2/3 of the way through, the size has increased to over 88k words as I realize I didn’t bother to explain some things or needed to expand other things.  By the time I’m done, hopefully I’ll be able to release something that’s less mess and more generally hot.

It is a lot of work going through that much story, though, and that’s why my posts have become more and more sporadic over the past couple of weeks.  It’s not because I don’t love you guys, it’s just that I’m eyeball deep in gods and Nazis and monsters.

Working on the cover has also been an interesting exercise.  It’s an iterative process and when I finally settled on something I actually liked it was so far off from the first cover that I had to redesign the first cover to capture the same look and feel as the new cover and the short story over.  The original cover’s redesign is still a work in progress, but it’s getting there.

Does redesigning a cover count as retconning?

So, just so this blog doesn’t become a wall of text, here’s the first sketch of the redesigned Henchmen cover.  The cover for Henchmen: Arise will be up shortly before I release the book.