[#reviseandrevive] An Introduction

This year is the year I’ve decided to get serious with my writing. And to do so means editing, revising and eventually publishing. Last month was editing – developmental on my side – so this month is putting those edits to work in my revision.

My novel is the same I was doing last month for #editnfriends.

The Final Rose is an epic fantasy novel that I hope feels like a Final Fantasy game has been written in prose. It’s currently long at 137,000 words and is only looking like it’ll get closer to 150k that I’d like.

The basic premise is:

Every seven years, droughts hit Adomar. To appease the Gods and bring rain, a tribute bearer is chosen by the divine to travel to the Floating Islands and barter for blessings. Never before had a tribute bearer returned.

This time, the chosen tribute bearer is the princess of Adomar, Ziove. In an effort to save her from the fate of the others, a traveling part is established. The strongest knight. A well-known mage. A summoner with knowledge beyond time. And a peasant to serve as bait and barter.

To choose the peasant, the king frames it as a challenge to be won, complete with prize purse. Task Tannes, a local con artist and thief, decides that the purse is worth the trouble it will take to flee his responsibilities.

But when he can’t escape and is forced on the journey, his life changes completely. It turns out that there are things more important than gold, and it is worth the sacrifice to save it.

The main character is Task Tannes. The other POV character is his rival, Sir Geir, the knight master of Adomar. In alternating (not symmetrical or in any given rhythm) POVs, I hope to show how each goes closer toward the middle (and beyond) to understand each other and help save the princess.

Right now, my romance is lacking. I need a lot more set up scenes. And there are parts I need to revise and expand (many). So that’s my focus for the month.

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to watch me suffer through it by reading along. Bonus mission? Participate as well. Use the hashtag on social media. Bother others to do it as well.

Writing and editing may be solitary, but venting is communal.

[#editnfriends] Paths of Victory, We Shall Walk

Editing Update:
Chapters: 24/24
Pen Refills: 1
Scenes Sliced: 10 (including a whole quarter chapter)
Darlings Killed: 7
Tears: 3
Final Thoughts: A bit of concern with this being the first novel to query, though I think it has commercial appeal. It’s a lot of work to do, but I am finally prepared to do it.

I can safely say that for the first time in my writing soon-to-be career, I have edited the longest piece of fiction thus far. Roughly 140,000 epic fantasy words. Twenty-four chapters out of twenty-four chapters (though really, it should be over thirty. Those last chapters were a ridiculous amount of pages). Through the Hero’s Journey rife with romance, betrayal and plot twists.

There were parts I hated. There were parts I loved. There were parts that I forgot I wrote that didn’t take me fully by surprise but made me go, “Oh!” Hell, there were parts while I was making notations where in one chapter, I would write “remember to reference this again” and two chapters later, I had. Past-me knew what to do. Makes revising easier.

And that is my next step: revising. I don’t think I need to do a full overhaul of the story. The skeleton is solid, despite a few cricks in the bones. Some fat needs trimming and a lot more muscle needs to be put on to make it a fully functioning story. It needs to walk, talk and breathe on its own among agents, publishers and book reviewers (I hope).

So I have developed a revising plan (that I’ve already started because this is set to post on Sunday) which will give me a strategy for my Camp NaNoWriMo goals:

  • Character Cards – Color-coded index cards to track character development and progression. Along with this, tracking scenes about romance and developing interest because two relationships just appear out of nowhere.
  • Scene Cards – I have a number of scenes to add (and some which may still be cut). Plan is to write that all up (on white cards) with what chapter they go into, what character(s) they involve, and how it progresses the plot. I can then shift things around.
  • Hero’s Journey – Most of my novels follow the Hero’s Journey (sometimes more loosely than others). So I am going to take twelve index cards, label them with the steps of the journey, and make sure everything seems to be in order there.

With hope, I can get this finished by the time this is posted (and I’ll share pictures on an update post). Because I plan to start the revision – whether it is adding, cutting, or pasting scenes – on April 1st. It’ll be interesting to see how my Camp NaNo progress moves along, being revision instead of words. But at least something will continue holding my accountable besides myself!

Takin’ Care of Business and Working Overtime

Let me just share, for a moment, my weekday schedule:

6:00 am – Up for work, getting myself and baby ready (with assistance from the spouse).
7:41 am – Train one to work.
7:59 am – Train two to work. Baby has stopped napping on the train. Yay. No freedom from the punishment of Peek-a-Boo!
9:00 am – Work. Both lab and teaching every day but Tuesday and Friday.
4:00 pm – Out of work (I don’t take lunch!). Except Thursdays, because then I teach until 7:00 pm.
5:30 pm – Home with baby. More punishment.
6:30 pm – Spouse comes home to take baby while cooking. Baby enjoys “the sizzlies” of the stove. I get to destress.
7:30/8:00 pm – Baby asleep. Free time until bed, preferably by 10:30 pm.

So, on a normal weekday, I don’t start my writing/editing journey until after 8:00 pm.

Are there exceptions? Sure.

Can I write at work? Sometimes. Benefit of my own office. During the summer when there are no classes, I often write a bit.

Does this all cut into my productivity? Oh hell yes.

Before the baby, I used my hour commute both ways to write on the phone or tablet. Or in my stream-of-consciousness plotting journal. I could work through snags or finish up an easy 1k words while blasting music.

Not anymore. This, of course, was my decision to have children so I should have taken that into account.

Before I became and adjunct alongside my main administrative work, I had the time to write at work. I’d have a few hours while a professor lectured before I had to go assist in the lab. Now that I’m the professor?

Not anymore. This was not my decision, really. It was the only way to afford to live.

It’s strange to see what used to be at least four or five hours during the day to write be reduced to two (or less). Years ago, I could join crazy challenges on WriYe or participate in word count goals that are far higher than I have now. (I wrote nearly 200k a month once!)

Having just two hours to really play with (if I take out the hour of destressing and eating, I could have three) means I have to get serious about it. Once the nightlight goes on and the door is shut, my laptop is on my lap. Work has to start. And words should flow and red ink should be spilled.

And what I’ve found is that this makes me not more productive, but more successful. So far this year, I’ve written one novel and four short stories. I’ve put up two novellas for critique. I’ve finished editing/preparing for revision 137,000 words. I’ve never edited more than 20k before now!

I’ve become less voluminous but more focused. More serious. And hopefully more ready for getting this writing career off the ground. It just goes to show…

“If you want something done, ask a busy person.”


(Of course, weekends are a different story. I can foist the baby on the spouse and lock myself away for a few hours to work on something. It just means watching her on my own to give back the same time.)

I Choose You!

I have, in my Google Docs right now, about one dozen finished first drafts. They’re not edited. Certainly not publishable. But they have a beginning, an illusion of a middle, and an end. Draft one done.

So every March, when that old edit bug comes a-bitin’, it’s time for me to look in that folder and choose a file. All the file names look up at me, sometimes with fancy title graphics, like flowers waiting to be plucked and made into a bouquet.

That is, at times, the hardest decision to make. Especially being an unpublished author with no deadlines or platform to my name yet. The page is blank and I have a 96 pack of Crayolas to color with, but which color goes down first?

This past year, with #Pub2020, I’ve been able to choose based on what novel I think is most sellable. The Final Rose is a stand-alone fantasy. It’s got compelling characters that go through some shit. It’s got a fun plot. Perfect for a debut.

But other years? It comes down to few things:

Reading the first chapter and going, “Can I handle this much right now?”

Are there more plot issues than I can remember? How was the technical part of the writing? Is the genre something I want to work in at the moment?

If any of those are a “no,” it’s onto the next.

Is this a series?

What book is it in the series? Beginning, middle, end? Do I remember what happened in the last book? Does this involve an extensive reread of the previous books? Where’s my damn series bible?

Is this something I plan to publish?

This is usually the very last question. I eventually want to edit and revise all of my novels. Even those than only friends will see.

But if I’m going to take this whole “published author” thing seriously, I really need to make sure I focus and perfect those things that agents and editors will buy.

How long ago did I write it?

Six months, at least, or bust! It is very rare of me to even look at something I wrote so soon after I write it. I’m trying to adjust and reduce time between but I have a backlog to work on.

If it’s a short story, it’s a different beast. I used to participate in a competition on WriYe that involved writing a short story a week. My goal was always to write the story Sunday – Tuesday, then ignore it until Friday for edits. It wasn’t my ideal amount of time apart, but it was enough.

So what about you, readers? What’s your criteria for the time you decide a story should be edited? Do you keep a schedule that you plan in advance or is it what feels good at that moment?

Editing Update:

Chapter: 13/24

Pen refills: 1

Scenes sliced: 5

Darlings killed: 3

Tears: 0

Current Concern: Task and Ziove need a lot more set up to fall in love. More scenes are needed in the first half with their relationship blossoming. Need to find a way to add them while adding to the plot.

[#editnfriends] I Used to Love Her, But I Had to Kill Her…

“[K]ill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” – Stephen King

It sucks. You reread your novel, that took you months/years to write. You get to this line/scene/chapter/character you love and you still love it. It’s something you couldn’t have written this well if you tried… Except it doesn’t fit. It’s not progressing the plot. It serves no purpose. The character is melding with another.

So you have to do it. You have to take your Red Inked Vorpal Sword and slice it through. (Or, since we have computers, cut and paste it to a Darlings Document that you can visit to pay sympathies to. Like a little row of writing gravestones.)

And it hurts. Because that was a part of you, for a short amount of time. Not forever, not eternal, but your thoughts and hopes that you spat out on paper. That you may have perfected through drafts. And now you’ve determined that piece of you is no longer important.

Removed. Trashed.

But maybe instead of thinking of it like garbage words, let’s think of it as a vestigial organ. These darlings are our appendix (or multiple parts of one giant appendix). They served a purpose once: they helped us get our first draft down and explore our world. They were characters that brought out parts of our main characters to help us develop them more. They were words and phrases that we can look back on later and perhaps repurpose into something new – like an awesome experiment discovering penicillin from mold.

Two things could happen if we leave this appendix in. We (our novel) could survive. There’s a chance it’ll just look a little strange but it’s not going to do any harm. One or two bacteria may be trapped there (one or two things that could be cut) but they’re not causing destruction. Some people (betas) might comment on it, and some doctors (editors) may suggest just removing it during your next surgery (draft), but it’s not dire.

However, the problem arises when this appendix swells with inflammation and becomes this festering organ housing thousands of bacteria. It runs the risk of bursting and infecting your whole blood supply (your novel). To save it requires some major surgery. Sometimes it’s too far gone, unable to be saved.

So, what’s better? Leave in a darling appendix that may burst? Or take these problematic things, cut them, and create a graveyard where you can visit and leave flowers in thanks to darlings past?

Editing Update:

Chapter: 8/24

Pen refills: 0 (but getting there)

Scenes sliced: 3

Darlings killed: 1

Tears: 0

Current Concern: Halden’s entrance is so boring. The fight is interesting but the way he just appears needs an overhaul.


[#editnfriends] Danger Zone

That’s the nickname I’ve given my editing space at home. It’s really my everything space, since I have a one year old who destroys everything she touches. But for this month (and maybe-but-hopefully-not next month), the main use is editing.

I have most of my document in my Google Drive, which is where my crit group edits and chapter by chapter split is. I reread from there, and then printed chapters one by one. They are in this binder (This is fantasy so it better be thick!):

I’m using tab dividers for chapters because I have a few things I know I’m going to have to go back and forth to for reference. Did I foreshadow the even in chapter thirteen enough in chapter four? Did this character’s last name suddenly appear in chapter six but not chapter one? Things like that.

Most of my plot issues will be figured out in the binder with flags and Post-its and huge red letters asking what I was thinking.

As I block my scenes, I’m using these index cards:

They’re color coded by character POV or character arc, if the character is a non-POV character. This is my main party (note the RPG lingo) so I need to make sure their arcs are complete and sensible.

What I’m ignoring this go-round is any sort of line editing. Why fix words that might change? Or scenes that might get sliced?

The last piece of my editing go-to kit is The Book and The Pen:

(Classic moleskine)

Every critique I do goes in here, written with my no-name fountain pen. I leave my expensive ones to things that don’t make me angry enough to throw them.

Every editing thought. Every comment on a beta read. I have flags which color code based on the community the crit is for (RFIC, WriYe, etc) that I remove once the crit is typed up and delivered.

My own stuff is sprinkled throughout with much harsher words than I write for anyone else. Because who can I abuse best but me?

When I work, I either spread out on the ground (when kid is asleep) or spread out around me on the couch (when kid is occupied with something else). I work best in chaos. When the next post about my work editing space comes up, you’ll see.

Editing Update:

Chapter: 03/24

Pen refills: 0

Scenes sliced: 0.5

Darlings killed: 0

Tears: 0

Current Concern: To make Sayine family or keep her as friend

2019: A Writing Odyssey

January’s WriYe Blogging Circle question reads as follows:

What’s your WriYe Word Count goal for 2019? Why did you choose it? What are your plans for the year? What do you want to accomplish with your writing?

My yearly word count goal is small. Much smaller than past goals have been. For years, I usually aimed for 300,000 words. Seemed a good plan – roughly 1,000 a day where I could miss some – and I was usually successful. In 2014, I banged out close to 700,000 words and finished a lot of novels.

And then I disappeared. I stopped writing. Work got to me and life got to me and I just didn’t focus on writing like I had in the past. I had a few false starts with I think one novel being finished between 2014 and 2017, and then not a single word in 2018. 

So this year – with a new kid, teaching a full load and my new-found love of triathlon and marathoning – I am focusing on quality words and editing. My goal is 120,000 words, meaning roughly 10,000 a month. Not to brag, but I know I can do 10,000 in a day if it comes down to it, so it’s that reassuring fact that will prevent me from feeling like I’ve failed if I don’t write for most of the month.


To be honest, the small word count goal is actually motivating me more. I’ve only missed one day of writing in the novel (I focused instead on research) and I’m already near twice my monthly word count goal. I like what I’m writing. And I’m also re-reading older novellas and novels and enjoying them. Which, for those who have known me, is monumental. I usually hate every word I’ve written

I guess I’ve grown up and matured a bit, huh?

For the accomplish part of the question, I mentioned it in my last post (about fifteen seconds ago) but I want to get published. I want to finally make this hobby of mine into something I do. Something I’m known for outside of the WriYe community. I’ve even told people at work that I write! Hopefully, I’ll see a fraction of success.

Bonus:

What are you most looking forward to in 2019?

This is half-writing, half-social… But I’m looking forward to connecting with old friends again. Erin, over at Erin Foster Books, brought me back after disappearing and already I feel that same click with the WriYers that I always have – new and old. And then we connected with old friends from a LiveJournal community and… It’s already shaping up to be a fantastic year for friends, writing, and more.

Words and Wyles

Hello, writing world.

It is I, K. A. Wyles, speculative fiction writer (horror and fantasy, mostly) and scientist. But this blog only focuses on one half of that, and it’s not the one with beakers and flasks. More about me will be in the About Me page, so let’s focus on the details here.

It seems I, once again, find myself re-starting this blog. But, fittingly, I am also creating a website to go with it so, win/win. I see that the time I was ever blog-active was 2014, which was the last year I really did any significant writing. The day job ate me up, gave me a second job, and I have finally been able to break the 60+ hour work weeks by having a child.

They’re good for something I guess. (Warning: There may be sarcasm.)

So, back into the groove. I have a story I’m already working on, but surprisingly, I’ve started to finally care about publishing a novel. It’s always been a “side” thing of mine; I write for fun and if something seems good, I’ll publish it. I didn’t want to edit.I just wanted to spit out all the writing in my brain and share with my friends.

But now? Now I want to publish and send my work to strangers. That’s my main focus. Over on WriYe, I’ve started up a group goal known as #Pub2020. It’s just what it sounds like: Get Published (or an Agent, or an Editor, or a Marketable Draft) by the end of 2020.

Is it a stretch goal? Yes. But it’ll get me focused. And having a group of fellow writing friends – new and old – do it with me will motivate me not to quit. I hate failing and I hate failing in front of people more.

Since I’d like to be serious, I’m also going to start taking the whole platform thing serious too. Which means new Twitter focused on writing, potential self-published novella to get my name out there, maybe a website?, and – most important – this blog has to come back to life.

And what better thing to bring it back to life (like the zombies that inspire it) than the January WriYe Blog Circle? That post will follow this one. Then my goal is one post a week about what I’m doing, my opinions on happenings, anything I find interesting, and more. Maybe a few excerpts. And polls on what I should focus on for things like PitchWars.

Here’s to 2019! May it be full of words and wisdom.