What’s in a Name?

Big changes incoming!

Perhaps you’ve noticed this very site (as well as Twitter) list me as “David J. Lovato” while the name on all my covers and storefronts simply reads “David Lovato”. That’s going to change.

Big changes this far along can get messy, and I spent the better part of two days updating all of my book covers and websites to add one little “J”, but the end result will be worth it. Why the change? Well, “davidlovato” wasn’t available for use as a WordPress site, so I added the J way back when, and it’s always good to keep things streamlined. Another reason is that I’m not the only David Lovato in town, and I think it’s best to keep any potential confusion to a minimum. So, starting in the coming weeks, you should see “David J. Lovato” on all of my books and store fronts. Also, it turns out I really like the way it looks. It’s like a little hook cementing my name in place. At the risk of sounding full of myself, I think I’ve realized you can tell a great font by its J.

Anyway, It’s a lengthy process to change all of my links and descriptions and profiles, but I’m almost done, and hopefully I did it without breaking anything too badly.

So, while I’m busy writing a post about my writing, I guess I should give a general update.

I’m way behind on Camp NaNoWriMo, thanks in part to burnout and in part to a household emergency. I may or may not get caught up, but I do plan to finish this project someday, and hopefully not too far away.

I have another project, a big one, that I’m hoping to release by Halloween. More details on that when it’s a little more ready for the spotlight.

I’m kicking around ideas for another poetry book. Possibly two of them. I enjoyed writing and publishing Permanent Ink on Temporary Pages, but for these two, I’m thinking bigger. Maybe louder.

I’m sitting on some novellas! One is finished and polished and I’m working to get it published traditionally. Another one is finished but not edited, and the last is unfinished, but I hope to put the final touches on those two this summer. Not sure whether I’ll self-publish or try the traditional route with them; that will depend on how I feel about the finished products. I also have an almost-finished short story collection that will most likely be self-published; the stories are all set in the same world and follow a specific theme.

And, as always, I have plenty of projects always moving, some slower than others, but they’ll be revealed when the time is right.

In short, I promise I’m working on things, and I’m pretty sure at least one of them will see a release this year.

Speaking of Halloween (I know that was a few paragraphs ago but it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want), last year I started a second RPG Maker project in the spirit of Halloween. With any luck I’ll finish it and release it before Halloween this year. It’s just a short little adventure where I challenged myself to see how odd I could make things go in that game engine, but I don’t see the harm in getting it out there, supposing I finish it. My main project is still Let the Moonlight Give You Wings, but that one is a lot larger and less predictable, so I can’t give an ETA on it. If I do pick up my Halloween-ish game again, expect to see some previews around these parts.

That about does it as far as talking about what I’m working on. One last thing though:

My favorite band is back! I can hardly express how excited I am to see Brand New recording and putting out new material. My history with this band is a long one. I’ll probably write a whole post on it pretty soon. But for now let’s just say they have a new song called “Mene” and you should buy it because it’s awesome.

And that’s it for now. Until next time!

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Camp NaNoWriMo April 2013 Results

Hey guys! Thought I’d give a little update on my Camp NaNoWriMo progress.

If you follow my blog, you’ll probably notice that I participate in almost every NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo, but usually I’m either too busy working on something else to finish it, or I end up writing a novella well under the 50,000 word goal.

This month was different. I reached my 50,000 word goal a few days ago, and I’m very happy with the work that has come out of it so far. It’s not finished yet, but I expect the final draft will be around 60,000 to 65,000 words. After that I’ll put it away for a while, then I’ll come back and edit it, which will likely make it end up around 58k to 60k. A little short for a science fiction epic, but again, I’m pretty proud of this story. I like it a lot.

I expect to finish the first draft within the next week or so.

The next session of Camp NaNoWriMo is in July. I’m not sure if I’ll participate in that one; I have a fantasy novel sitting at over 20,000 words and I should probably get back to that pretty soon. I have other ideas (I’m pretty much never short on that) but I’m not sure any of them are developed enough to begin working on.

For all my fellow campers out there, good luck! There’s still a week left, and writing something is better than writing nothing. Have fun!

Camp NaNoWriMo April 2013

Just a quick update here. For the April session of Camp NaNoWriMo, I’m making a second attempt at a novel I started years ago but wasn’t ready to write. It’s science fiction, which I haven’t written in a while, and it feels good to get back into the genre.

As always, some NaNo tips:

1. Have fun! Don’t take things too seriously. Missing your daily or even overall goal isn’t the end of the world, and writing something is better than writing nothing at all.

2. It may not matter what you write, just write. If you’re dead-set on reaching your goal but you have writer’s block, make a copy of your document and just go completely nuts. Write something off the wall that would never make it to your final draft. Chances are as long as you keep writing, the creative gears will keep turning, and you may just come up with a way past your block.

3. Put it away for a while. When I find myself stuck, I usually head for some menial task, like running on the treadmill or doing the dishes. Nine times out ten, a solution to whatever I’m stuck on pops into my head within a half hour.

4. And this one is for writing in general: Write down your ideas! I use the Notes app on my iPod Touch, and I write down everything. Every little thought, however incoherent. My recent novella Six and Seven started out this way. I was lying in bed, about to fall asleep, and one little thought popped into my head: Hell has seven chimneys. It took almost a year before I began fleshing that out into a story, but the result is one of my favorite works. And you never know when some little note or idea or sentence will be just what you need to get yourself moving again.

If you want to keep up with my camp progress, here’s my profile: http://www.campnanowrimo.org/campers/crackedthesky

Feel free to add yours in the comments. You might get a few views, and we might even be able to get a cabin going.

Camp NaNoWrimo August Update

It’s still August but I’m pretty sure I’ll once again not be a Camp NaNo winner.

That’s okay though! Because this time I finished my project. It’s a novella, not a novel, and I didn’t feel comfortable trying to force it to be anything else. So the first draft of “Six and Seven” is finished. I’m going to set it aside for a little while and then come back to it and edit with a fresh set of eyes, and then see if I can get it published somewhere. I’ve taken a brief glance at different publications looking for horror novellas, and there are a few that look great, so we’ll see how that goes once I’ve revised it.

I came up with ideas for two other novellas, both related to this one in some way, and for a time I thought about combining the three into one project for Camp. Considering that would give me a week to dream up these stories and write them down, I don’t think I’m going to try it. There’s no way it wouldn’t end up being very rushed. I need to kick these ideas around, see if I really love them and want to write them, and then let them come to life on their own. That won’t happen if I try to slap them onto paper in seven days.

To all other Camp participants, I hope your projects are going well! Remember to take it easy, don’t rush things, don’t force things, don’t stop having fun.

Camp NaNoWriMo Progress Report

This month’s camp project is going well. Unlike my June project, I’ll probably finish sometime this month.

The downside is I’m pretty sure this project of mine is going to be a novella, not a novel. That’s actually okay though, I like this story and I like how it’s turning out, so it will be what it needs to be and no more.

My writing process has been interesting. I’ve been writing at night, and then I get into bed and brainstorm while falling asleep. It sounds strange but it’s working well for this project. I tend to come up with ideas when I’m just on the verge of unconsciousness, and then I wake up and write them down. Not every idea is a good one, but a lot of them are. When I go to write the next day I figure out which ideas to incorporate and where.

I’ve also been doing a lot of drawings using GIMP. Some are inspired by the writing, and some of the writing is inspired by the drawings. I don’t think I’ve ever done that in writing before, but again this is an odd project for me and it’s all meshing really well with this particular story.

I also have a playlist of music that reminds me of the story and the characters and how they are, and I listen to that a lot. It keeps me in the right mindset.

How are all of you nanos out there doing? What do you do for inspiration?

Tips for Camp NaNoWriMo

Looking at my WordPress dashboard, it’s clear to me that a good deal of the traffic coming to my blog in the last few weeks is from people looking for NaNoWriMo tips. I mostly post updates about my own work, with a few exceptions where I talked about general tips, so I decided to try to post something more along the lines of what those readers are looking for.

When it comes to NaNoWriMo (and writing in general) there’s not really a right way or a wrong way. I could spout (and have spouted) lists of rules on grammar and spelling and word usage and on and on, but breaking those rules won’t necessarily make your book bad any more than following them will make it good. That said, when you approach NaNoWriMo, there’s a good chance you haven’t written much (or anything) before. That’s part of what NaNo is meant to change.

So here are some basics:

1. Write every day. Write a blog post, write a poem, write utter nonsense as it pops into your head, just write. Think of this as stretching before a run; you’ll get your creative juices flowing, get your fingers moving, and get yourself relaxed and comfortable and thus in a position to write. As a bonus, since the goal of NaNoWriMo is to just finish a novel, not necessarily a publishable one, you might even be able to run that “utter nonsense” I mentioned into a NaNo winner. The chances that said project will be particularly good may not be high, but you’ll never know until you write it.

2. Don’t freak out if you fall behind. Don’t freak out at all really, but if you find yourself a thousand or two thousand or ten thousand words behind, don’t flip your keyboard and walk away from your computer. Just take a minute, breathe, and figure out what’s keeping you behind. Are you stumped? A lot of people will tell you to throw a plot twist from left field to keep you on your toes. It’s sound advice that works for a lot of NaNo participants, but it’s never really worked for me. Give it a try and see how it goes, and if it works, great. What I normally do in that situation is just brainstorm. Usually when I write something I keep notes on some iOS app or another (usually just the stock Notes app, though I’ve used list apps and mindmap apps as well). Any thought I have relating to my story I write down. Should I find myself unable to progress, I get the list out and go over it and try to figure out where this story is going. I also write down ideas I’m not sure I’ll use, and sometimes one turns out to be the perfect thing to put into my story. It’s kind of like the above advice, but a little bit less random, which keeps my story a little more coherent than if I just make something up on the spot.

This doesn’t always happen immediately, so like I said: Don’t freak out. Here’s my current stats page, for example:

As you can see, I’m a little behind. The NaNoWriMo website does a lot of math for you, and it’s a good way to keep things on track. At this rate I’ll finish halfway through September, which isn’t a NaNoWriMo winner, but that stat will change if I write a little more. A little can go a long way with NaNoWriMo, and in my case 1652 words per day would have me finishing on time. Now think of this: If instead I write 1700 words per day (less than fifty extra) I’ll finish a day sooner. And if I throw in an extra 150 per day and do 1800, I’ll finish in 24 days (and currently I have 27 left to go).

If you find yourself behind, don’t feel compelled to rush and catch up. Adding a few hundred words per day might sound like a lot, but an average page tends to fall near 250 words, so if it helps you to think in terms of pages, writing an extra page per day can not only get you caught up quickly, it can put you way ahead.

3. Write now, edit later. It’s better to have too much in a first draft and cut away than have too little and need to tack scenes on later. This is especially true when it comes to NaNoWriMo. The goal is 50,000 words, which is actually pretty short for a novel, and anything too much shorter will usually not be a publishable book, unless you’re going for middle grade. That said, don’t be afraid to fluff things up for your NaNoWriMo project. You can (and should) always cut things down a little bit when you revise, and you never know when something you add now will turn out to be not fluff but setup for an epic plot turn 30,000 words from now.

Not everything works for every writer. Chances are you’ll know better than I or anyone else on the internet what does or doesn’t work for you, but you usually won’t just know it, you have to try a few things and learn what gets the gears going. But it won’t hurt to try things that work for others and see if they also work for you. Hopefully you can find something here to help you along your way.

If anyone else has any tips to add, feel free to leave a comment. What works for you? What do you do when you find yourself behind?

Six and Seven

I don’t normally like talking about things before I’ve finished them, mostly because I’m paranoid, but I think I need to work past that. Getting word out is part of the writing process, so that’s something I need to get better at.

My Camp NaNo project is nowhere near completed, but I have a good feeling that I can see this one through to the end of at least a first draft. Normally when I finish a first draft I sit on it for a few months and then come back to it. This one might take even longer. Hopefully the story will turn out as well as I think the first few pages have. That said, I’m currently working on:

Six and Seven

Six and Seven

The underworld is a cold, dark place where ash falls like snow and there’s always an itch you just can’t scratch. In the distance loom seven chimneys, visible no matter where you are, like giant watchful obelisks.
Two lost souls learn there’s a way out of the underworld by climbing up through one of its chimneys, but you can’t just walk up to them. Distance isn’t physical here, and progress is made by learning. As Six and Seven search for clues to remind them who they were and how they got here, the chimneys draw closer, but knowledge comes with a terrible price. Keeping in line with this dark place’s dark humor, it’s a price Six and Seven might not be able to pay.

 

Besides working on the novel, I’m hoping to throw together more artwork like what you see up there. I know it probably won’t be included if this thing ever gets published (authors rarely get much say) but sometimes drawing helps inspire me (even though I’m really bad at it) and I have a lot of ideas for related artwork.

I’m still debating whether to post excerpts. I’ll probably post a sentence or two daily on my facebook page, which you should see a link to either on the sidebar or below this post.

So what are you working on? Let me know in the comments, and good luck!

August Camp NaNoWriMo Day 1

I’m off to a great start! Last night on my way to bed I decided to sit down for a minute and write the opening lines of my camp project. That “minute” turned into a “short while” and I wrote over 1400 words, putting me just under where I should be for the day. This project is interesting so far but I’m not sure how many more thousand-word bursts of random inspiration I’ll have.

Writing almost the whole day’s average in one sitting last night doesn’t mean I get the day off, though. I usually spend most or all of NaNo way behind, and it might be nice to be way ahead for once, so hopefully I can nurture this head start and keep it running.

On the Eve of Camp NaNoWriMo

August Camp NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow. I’m still not sure I’m ready, but I am going to attempt it. Why not try? The worst that can happen is you don’t write a novel, which is probably what will happen if you don’t attempt it (well, it probably won’t happen for a while, anyway). If it turns out I’m not ready for this project, no big deal. I’ll try again when I am, and I’ll likely have a better understanding of what went wrong, and I may even have a nice start to work from.

I finished reading the QueryShark (http://queryshark.blogspot.com) archives. I’ve drafted two different queries using the things I learned, now I’m going to sit on them for a while. Hopefully I’ll still like at least one of them in a week or so, and then I’m considering submitting to the Shark myself.

To all those participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, good luck and have fun!

Pre-August Camp Update

The August session of Camp NaNoWriMo (http://campnanowrimo.org/) begins in about three and a half days. I finished revising my manuscript weeks ago, so hopefully I’ll focus more on Camp this month.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure I have any ideas fleshed-out enough to start working on in three days. I do have ideas though, and I’m going to give it my best shot, but if I sense trying to get this thing written out in 30 days or less is ruining my manuscript, I won’t hesitate to give up on NaNoWriMo and let my project breathe freely.

I’ve turned my thoughts to this project over the last few days, and I keep a list of random thoughts and ideas relating to it. It’s a sort of brainstorming thing I do; I have my main characters down pretty well and I know the basics of the story, but I’m not sure how it’ll get from one point to another. So I spend time thinking about the setting, the world in which this story takes place, and things that exist in it and how these characters would react to them. I don’t always use everything I write down, and in fact much of it never comes up at all, but it’s there in this world and it makes the world a little bit more alive, which in turn makes the characters a little bit more real. Hopefully I’ll have enough to start working with in three days.

I’ve started going back over the archives at QueryShark (http://queryshark.blogspot.com/). So far I haven’t come across anything I didn’t read before (maybe I did finish reading over them and I just don’t remember) but it’s worth a second read anyway. I’ve already stumbled across one tip I actually don’t follow in my own query letter. I feel like I have a good reason for not following it, but don’t we always feel that way about a mistake we’re in the process of making? I was sure I was right yesterday, but I’ve been thinking it over and now I’m leaning toward “maybe I’m wrong”. But I’ll keep reading the archives and writing down anything my query does contrary to the Shark’s advice, and then I’ll go over it a few times. Obviously the Shark won’t always be right and every agent has different opinions (which is why it’s important to check each agent’s page for what they do or don’t like) but that blog has a lot of priceless knowledge and information and is probably right more often than not. I’m also actually considering submitting my own query now, if I feel like the archives alone aren’t getting my query to where I’d like it to be.

That’s about all going on in David World right now. What are you up to? Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo next month?