Finished an Editing Contract

I finished the last editing contract I have for Red Markets last Thursday. 1) I'm pretty pleased with myself for turning it in a day before the deadline, even if I usually get projects in a bit faster than that and 2) I'm really thrown by actually being finished with my part of the project. Like, I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not going to be working on Red Markets during lunch, so I need to set up something else to work on during lunch. I've only got two more folks I owe critiques of their projects to. It's not like I'm suddenly out of obligations I can be working to fulfill. That really would throw me for a hell of a loop, being out of obligations/projects.

First, some statistics. There were three parts to this project, the players'/rules section, the Market (GM) section, and then I was working on the Introduction, History, and Setting sections all together, as one part. According to my notebook, I started editing the players' section back in June 2016 (really? where did the time go?) with a word count of 98,304 and stopped tracking on July 16 at 94,393 words. I think I started writing down the date and word count somewhere in the middle of editing that section, but c'est la vie. Now I've built the habit and trust that my tracking (going forwards) is accurate. The first pass of the Market's section started on July 22nd at 70,395 and ended on October 31st at 70,146. I'd like to mention that there were about 2K words added to what I was editing in the middle there, due to a Scrivener export error. Bad Scrivener. Do what the author wanted, not what he told you. Finally, the Intro-History-Setting section edit started on Nov. 6th with just the History section at 43,951 words, another 20,271 words were added on Dec. 5th, the Intro and Setting sections (28,095 words) were added to the mix on Feb. 6th, and I wrapped up editing the whole thing on April 13th at 82,483. For a total cut count of 9,834 or 10.65%. That's pleasing to me.  

Second, I basically feel like I've got a project hangover.  I've been focusing on Red Markets for so long that there's a sense of 'now what?' that I've finished. I'm flailing a little bit to remember I need to set something up on my laptop to work on during lunch. I sat down over the weekend and played a video game for four or five hours straight. I've started setting a timer on my phone to get the heck off the computer and go eat dinner during the weeknights so I'll stop playing video games and do some necessary daily chores. I'm not sad I'm enjoying a video game, I'm annoyed at myself for how compulsively I'm playing. This might be a lack of sleep, as I haven't slept well this past week, but either way, I'll get into the swing of the next project soon. I hope. 

So! The next project. Projects actually. I have a contract to do some developmental editing work for a different role-playing game, focused on being a goblin in a post-apocalyptic world. I think the premise is hilarious and now it's my job to make sure at the bones of the game are in the right place and of proper length. ... That metaphor is getting a bit tortured. I'm just going to move on. 

The other project I'm moving on to is working on the fourth draft of a novel I'm writing. This is the project I traded critiques for and am a bit behind on delivering the ones I've promised, so, need to work on that. Then I need to actually import folks' critiques into the Scrivener project wrangling all this and read through them all. See who's feedback makes sense to me slash if other folks say the same thing slash is actionable. Then you know, do the work to turn it into a finished product. I'm excited to be nearing a final version of this project too. It's a bit odd trying to talk about it without talking about  it. I'd like to, but there's other folks involved in the IP rights and I feel like I need to have coordinated with them before burbling on about the specifics of this project.

Or, you know, put together a marketing plan.

Darn having a full-time job and too many things to do.

On to the next

So I turned in my final version of the GM section of Red Markets last Monday (a day early I might add), and had a signed contract for the history/setting section by Thursday. 😃

I did manage to pull the GM section's word count under 70k — 69,953 to be precise. So that made me happy. But I am definitely ready to not look at the GM section again for at least a month. I'm reasonably sure I've got part of the d100 table memorized. And not any of the entries I wrote either.

So the setting section. This contract is working a little differently than the previous two. The Player's section and the GM's section were complete before Caleb and I had the contracts for those in place. Which let us have exact numbers of words I was responsible for editing, which could also be handed off to me in one file.

The setting section is still being written.

First, let me be clear — that's completely reasonable to me. I have no idea when Caleb started migrating the setting information from his brain to paper, but I'm confident it was after he had a game put together. So you know, after he'd already written over 163K words of rules. Second, not only does he have a day job, but he's also doing the project manager thing on the Red Markets book, in addition to writing.

So this contract, for the first time, has a cap on how many words it covers. I don't know if having a ceiling on his word count is going to be motivating or restraining for Caleb, but the possibility of having to write, edit, proof, and get signed a second contract sure would be for me. What can I say, minor annoyances can motivate some hard goal setting for myself.

Meanwhile, I've got the "History of the Crash" section in hand to edit while Caleb finishes up the setting part. 

And I am in love with the narrator's voice.

I got fourteen pages in before my inner editor finally kicked hard enough that I did my usual first step of enforcing the capitalization guide. (And before anyone asks, it was the double dashes where there should be em-dashes that did it. 1) I blame Scrivener's export function and 2) good grief am I nerd.) I love her sass, I love how unflinching she is, and I love her nerdiness. I was already excited about being involved in publishing Red Markets, but I am so looking forward to Gnat making it out into the wild.

Normally I don't get political on this blog. But if you're in the US and eligible, please, for the love of everything you hold holy, get the fuck out there and VOTE on Tuesday. More importantly, VOTE FOR HILLARY CLINTON. And all the down-ballot races.

Cutting back on projects

I've got too many ‘projects’/things going on. Most aren't visible through this blog (I think) and that's actually part of the problem. They're support things, not writing things which is, at least supposedly, my main creative area.

Things I am currently trying to keep moving forward (in no particular order), by type:
Family stuff:

  1. Family time
  2. Organizing the apartment
  3. Household chores
  4. Reading
  5. Gym

The first one is non-negotiable for I hope obvious reasons. Organizing the new apartment (or as Partner likes to call it: ‘nesting’) should eventually be a completed project and absolutely needs to happen for both of us to feel comfortable and happy in our space. Because if we’re not happy, we won’t recharge from coming home and definitely won’t be able to work. So there would go any of my other projects. Chores / adulting have to happen to continue being able to function/feed ourselves, so that has to happen too. Personally I dislike the gym (I'm bored there) but I need to for health reasons (job I sit at all day) so I take a book and read while I cycle for 30 minutes. Just have to start the habit up again in the new apartment building’s gym.

Social stuff

  1. Group chat
  2. RPPR & D&U forums
  3. Blog posting
  4. Tumblr
  5. Scribophile groups
  6. GoodReads updating
  7. GoodReads groups

The group chat for fans of RPPR coordinating going to meals together at GenCon 2015 sort of… metastasized into a general chat hangout. It's turned into my primary non-family social outlet and what I'm distracted by at work (trust me, if it wasn't this, there’d be something else). I like talking to these folks, so not giving this up. Especially since I think it fits into down moments I wouldn't be doing other things. I like checking in once a day with the forums for my two favorite podcasts, so keeping that (even if I do think I should post more and lurk less). Keeping my commitment to blog twice a week gets me to write, even if it’s a different type of writing than my main goal (fiction), so that’s staying. Also, you know, this post probably wouldn’t be going up if I was going to cut out the blogging. So that kind of speaks for itself. Tumblr might be my biggest time sink buuuuut I kinda want to keep doing it. A lot. I’ve kept up with news and general internet chicanery through RSS feeds for years, but thinking about sharing content through my Tumblr blog gets me to look at / read through more, which I think is good for my engagement with the world…

I don’t currently have anything going through critique on Scribophile, nor time soon to put in a round of critique through the Fast Critters’ group on Scribophile, nor really time to keep up with the forums… Forums are difficult/hard for how I think about interacting. I don’t have enough time or attention span to respond to them in real time and then when I get back to them, I generally feel overwhelmed by all the discussions that happened. So it’s hard to catch up to see if I have anything to say. RPPR and The Drunk & The Ugly’s forums seem to be my exception to that general pattern though. Any rate, same problem with GoodReads’ groups. So I’m going to set those two aside for now, see if I miss the interaction or feel differently in a few months. I do plan to keep with by fellow bloggers’ group on Scribophile though. Too much good writing to drop that. As for keeping my ‘stuff’ on GoodReads up to date, I’m going to stop feeling like I have to do that and see if I just want to update what I’m reading or rate things once I finish a book. It’s there. I know it’s there. We’ll see what happens with it.

Hobbies & Writing

  1. Red Markets Editing
  2. Red Markets Convention packet
  3. GMing @ WashingCon
  4. Technical Difficulties
  5. Dangers of Fraternization
  6. The Night Clerk
  7. General Backlog of writing ideas

I get paid for editing Red Markets, that’s not going anywhere. I’ve got this thing about following through on my word, you see.

I think the convention packet for Red Markets is where most of my creative energy is going right now. See, this guy in one of the social media groups for Red Markets said ‘wouldn’t it be great if someone put together a packet for GM’s to be able to teach the game to new players at a convention? Anyone interested in working on that with me?’ Well, both Partner and I said ‘yes’ so we’ve been working with this guy Tom to write that up and refine it. Or pare down the available rules to a quick-and-dirty guide. Six of one… We tried out what we had at GenCon and now are working to revise it based on feedback in time for WashingCon. Where we’ll solicit another round of feedback on improvements. End result eventually, hopefully being that we have a well put together tool for GMs, both new and experienced, to run an enjoyable introductory game of Red Markets for both new and experienced players. Because we want to evangelize the system. But yeah. Set project. Definable goals. Actual project management  tools in use (that reminds me, I should try using Trello for one of my other projects and write up a review for y’all next Monday…) I’m not pulling back on my involvement in this project. As for GMing at WashingCon, 1) I’ve said I’m going to, so I need to, 2) I think my game at WashingCon is already full of people (meep!...), and 3) it’s in three weeks and then it’ll be done. It’s fine. It’s fine. It’s all fine.

Technical Difficulties is usually one of my two main creative energy outlets (the other being writing), it’s just that summer made our schedule go a bit wonky. But I remember the difference in my mood when I picked up gaming again. It's necessary for my mental health and happiness. It's why I try to talk Partner into playing with the TD group as often as I can – I like it, I want to spend time with Partner, and I want to share.

The rest just has to go on the back-burner until editing on Red Markets is done. Or I’ve cleared off enough of the time-bound projects to free up some time for them. Dangers next, then Night Clerk, then pull something out of the backlog into it’s own project. Like in 2 years. Man, I hope it doesn’t take me that long to work through Night Clerk…

The final list of stuff I’m going to continue pushing forward:

  1. Family time
  2. Organizing the apartment
  3. Household chores
  4. Reading
  5. Gym
  6. Group chat
  7. RPPR & D&U forums
  8. Blog posting
  9. Tumblr
  10. Red markets editing
  11. Red Markets convention packet
  12. GMing @ WashingCon
  13. Technical Difficulties

I can handle 13 things. I think.

Updating the Blogging Process

I've been thinking about my posting process and realized A) I’d like to have something earlier than the night before and B) I've been posting first drafts.

Some of the writing the night before was to keep what I was writing relevant to what was happening with me now, not a week ago. But let's be honest. It was mostly lazy/working just-in-time/over scheduling projects.

Which is what led to the first draftness of my posts. If you write the post the night before it goes up, there's no time to do a rewrite. Even if I’ve always gotten Partner to read it over for typos and word salad fails.

I don't show folks the first draft of stories (not without an explicit ‘this is very much a first draft’ warning). So why am I content to do that with blog posts? It's all reflective of myself and my writing abilities. Time to do better.

One of the things prompting this reflection is that Partner and I recently moved to a new place. Nothing like having to reorganize all your stuff and learn a new commuting habit to prompt reassessing everything else in your life.

The new commute is providing a solution to this actually. At least partially. Before, I had a 15 minute walking commute to work (so spoiled by that). Now it'll take me 30 minutes to get to work, 15 of which is on public transit. So, by loading up the Google Docs app on my phone, I can write more. And burn through more cell phone data.

I won't get all 15 minutes in the morning though. Most days, if we're running on-time, Partner and I will be commuting together, up until his transfer point. Have to admit, I'd rather have that time with him than wrangle with this new swiping keyboard on my phone. Even if it is faster than the old method of typing.

Technically, I could have spent the same amount of time writing before or after I got home from work under the old commute. But I wasn't. We’ll just have to see if I can develop the habit/keep up the discipline to write.

And then actually revise what I write before it goes up.

Going cross-eyed over here

I think I never want to write a 'to' again...

So I've finished an editing pass on the player's section of Red Markets focused on cutting words. Started with 98,304 on June 27th, finished up a couple days ago (July 8th) having got it down to 95,115. Three thousand may not seem like much (it's about 3% of the original), but I'm pretty pleased. To get substantially more, I'd have to start throwing out ideas and complete rules sets. Major no-no, that would be.

Twelve days to work through 98K words feels pretty good. I did this first pass by really grinding away at the sentence structure level, until about halfway through something clicked in my brain and I could see the sentences and occasional paragraph that should come out. The two examples I could condense down into one. Things like that. I mean, I was also copy-editing for the misplaced commas and whatnot at the time, so a sentence level focus feels right. But a second pass is definitely in order, this time with that willingness to yank sentences I developed in the first pass.

Directly after finishing up the first pass, I started making these shorter passes looking for specific things. And by shorter passes, I mean I used the find/replace function to step through the document to only look at specific words. Passes I did:
'It's vs. its'
'Affect vs. effect'
'Numbers vs. digits'
'There, their, and they're'
'Your vs. you're'
'Hear vs here'
'We're, were, and where'
A pass to double check the instances of 'will' future tense
and the one that really made me go cross-eyed:

'Too, two, and to'

'Too' and 'two' weren't so bad. But do you know how many 'to's there were in 98K words?? 3122. Three thousand, one hundred, and twenty-two. And I touched/laid eyes on every. single. one. You know how many needed to be cut or changed?


Copy-editing == a neurotic drive towards perfectionism. Oy gevalt. 


The editorial meeting when the author and I discuss my proposals is going to be interesting. I'm going to be advocating moving an entire section from the player's section to the game master's section. Also advocating for a reordering of a major section of mechanics (negotiations). And defending a couple subsection reorderings I just went ahead and did.

Text isn't great about conveying the presence or absence of sarcasm, but I want to be perfectly clear: I really am looking forward to that meeting and debating those changes. 

Pretty sure that means I'm in the right job. 

About that Editing Thing

Editing the player's section of Red Markets has been my primary focus for a couple of weeks now, but I felt like I needed to ramp it up with the Kickstarter winding down (1448 backers! whoo!). Which got me to wrap of the clarity pass last Sunday (the 19th, not the 26th) and enforcing the style guide on Saturday (the 25th).

First, thank goodness for control+F.

Second, thank goodness for Find and Replace.

Look, I don't know how copy editors did this before the age of computers without going insane. By the time I finished enforcing capitalization choices with these lovely tools, my eyes were crossing to the point that 'upkeep' looked funny. I don't know what it was, but putting a 'p' and a 'k' next to each other just made the word look wrong. Somehow. I did eventually figure out that was the correct spelling. I'm just saying, I can't imagine going through a physical document line-by-line, red pen in one hand and a copy of the project style guide in the other. I think my eyes would slide over so many things...

So, salutes to the copy editors of yore and everyone who still works that magic by hand.

Now that I've got the ten pages of style guide (three and a half of which are just what gets capitalized and what doesn't), I'm on to the hard pass – trimming the word count down. It's the hard pass because the author is bloody good at this whole writing thing. Which means that thoughts build up on each other from each sentence. And there's very few obvious digressions within a sentence to cut out. Which is, you know, an extremely good problem to have – I'll enjoy going over this thing line-by-line because I'll like what I'm reading.

Won't prevent me from going a little cross-eyed on the third read-through, looking for another couple hundred words to cut. But I'll enjoy it.

State of the Project #2

Still at 40,217 words, which if you're keeping track from last week, means I haven't touched the current draft. Well, I suppose I could have somehow magically written as many words as I cut, but I didn't. Concentrated on writing all those critiques I agreed to for folks on Scribophile – two for Jay, two for Emily, two for Sid, one for Karin, and three for John. Huh. Didn't feel like ten over the week. My jerk brain is telling me I need to pick up the pace, but that averages out to one and half chapters critiqued a day. Which is pretty good for having a full time job, right? Fellow Scribophile writers, when you're concentrating on trading critiques, how fast do you write critiques? 

Part of the jerk brain's ammunition is that Lorena finished critiquing the whole project and the guy who started looking at my writing through the Fast Critters group. Dude is already on chapter 12 and doing 3-4 critiques a day. Unfortunately, he's not all that helpful for me. Which is a bit of a story.

See, I critiqued his piece several months ago through the Fast Critters group.

It was bad. I had to ask the group leader for more time everyone agreed to because I had to mentally force myself to read through their work. Three female characters and one male character and the dang thing didn't pass the Bechdel test in the first dozen chapters or so. Female lead character was an abusive, misogynist. Just really insulting characterization of women (I thought) from a male writer with bad existential philosophy thrown in. Not that I think existential philosophy is a bad philosophy, it's that the philosophy in-story was badly written. And just bloody uninteresting. 

And I have no idea if this guy remembers that was me critiquing his second novel in a trilogy and hating it so much I hoped it never sees the publishing light of day. Not that I said that, but my distaste for his work showed through the critiquing. Which I know because he kept messaging me to defend/explain/mansplain his writing and stop pointing out how red-flag abusive and misogynistic his main character was.

So, um, yeah. Didn't like his writing. No idea if he remembers me. Or if it's influencing his critiquing. But he's pointed out things that no one else mentioned in any of the other 11 critiques on chapter one. Not even hitting the minimum level of stuff to say to get currency-unit points on a couple chapters. And saying things like "Hey, here's some homework to go do". Okay, not liking how often I use names in dialog is one thing. Possibly a valid thing. Probable even. But the second you're condescending enough to tell another adult on a website of peers who choose to associate with each other to go do homework... I don't have words at that point, just inarticulate side-eyed annoyance. 

Next time I participate in Fast Critters, I'm going to ask the group leader not to assign me to this dude's writing, or this dude to my writing. We just don't like each other's work. We'll see how that works out since I'm pretty sure they participate in group more than I do. I need to know I'm going to have a clearer few weeks than usual to feel like it'd be fair to the author waiting on my critiques, for me to sign up for a round at Fast Critters.

Sorry, derailing into only semi-related topics here. Back to the actual state of the project.

Started pulling together some creative commons images onto a Pinterest board for cover development. Also some photographs I'll have to check the copyrights on.

State of the Chapters:
5 critiques, 3 comments on the blurbs
12 critiques on chapter 1
9 critiques on chapter 2
5 critiques on chapter 3
4 critiques on chapter 4
4 critiques and 1 comment on chapter 5
4 critiques on chapter 6
3 on chapter 7
2 (each) on chapters 8-11
1 (each) on chapters 12-14
and 2 (each) on 15 and 16

Definitely time to cross-reference all the critiques on 1 through 6 and create a revision log. I'm not entirely sure about the mechanics of how I'm going to do that. I could do the standard of having the draft in one window of Scrivener and one critique in the other and deciding on a case-by-case basis what I want to incorporate into the draft. But I would like see what multiple people agree on before making that decision. Which sort of sounds like creating a draft copy in Word, turning on track changes, and adding everyone's comments, suggestions, and changes through the comments function of Word. Which would be a lot of work. I'll have to keep thinking about it. Any other writers feel like sharing in the comments their methodology? 

I need to keep revising the blurb. Did a bit of research on what covers in my genre look like on Amazon. Turns out the mystery section of Amazon doesn't have subcategories below Mysteries : Hardboiled, just moods & themes or characters tags. So... covers look like the Vintage Crime printings of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. I could emulate worse.  Also I still need to read up on how to export into ebook formats.

And keep on blogging.

See y'all next week.

Where I am - state of the project #1

So (which is apparently my favorite word to start a post with) I've got this project. The first writing project I did, The Wages of Sin, clocked in at about 21.5K words and my partner kept calling it a book, while I kept insisting that it was a novella, there's actual industry guidelines on which is which, and I'm not denigrating my abilities by calling it a novella instead of a novel, it's the technical term dang it!

This time, the word count is sitting at 40,217 words before final revision, which according to Wikipedia, quoting the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America definitions for the Nebula award categories, means I've just edged into the novel category.

My partner is doing the 'I told you so' dance.

But any rate. I've got all 40K words in 16 'chapter' chunks, plus another 120ish words in a blurb, being looked at by Scribophile folks.
4 critiques, 3 comments on the blurbs
9 critiques on chapter 1
3 critiques on chapter 2
2 critiques on chapter 3
2 critiques on chapter 4
2 critiques and 1 comment on chapter 5 - someone say the title and dropped by to say it caught their attention and they like it. Encouraging and nice to hear. 
Oh and 1 critique on chapters 15 and 2 on chapter 16 because I asked a couple folks  to work backwards to work around natural tendencies in critiquing in order to concentrate on copy-editing. And they were nice enough to say yes.

I've got some amazing folks looking at things as fast as their own lives allows them and I need to critique their writing, because swapping is a much easier way to get things looked at than just asking folks to look at things. I've got 39 chapters to critique for Jay, 3 for Sid, 1 for Emily, all finished for Georgina (until she posts more), and I really owe John as many critiques as I possibly can give him. And I've promised Lorena I'll look at her whole novel starting in two months (when she posts everything).

I've developed a tracking list of critiquers who are amazing and I should remember their name for the next project(s).

I need to cross-reference all the chapter one critiques, create a revision log, and then execute. I'll need to do that for the rest of the chapters too, but I think I should wait for four per chapter. I need to keep revising the blurb. Research what covers in my genre look like on Amazon and develop ideas for my own. Searching for creative-commons available images and build a cover. Read up on how to export into ebook formats.

Oh, and keep on blogging.

It'll be a busy few weeks.