A Few Mini Dreams: Paper Nightmare, Escape of the Innocent, and Flying Through

A few mini dreams:

 


 

Thrown papers fly at me through a slammed open door. Each one impacts with a great puff of smoke, forcing me back with each incoming blow. Eventually, I trip into a pool of paper at the end of a test wallpapered hall, flailing in the ruddy pool, and slowly sinking into black ink swirling beneath the surface. All I can see is failing grades while I drown.

 


 

I run upstairs chased by an unknown foe, into my bedroom, and try to escape. A huge dream creation of a dog confronts me with a bark, actually waiting for me to climb onto his back. We emerge through the door, land on the enemy, descend the stairs, and spot an evil accomplice. Racing back into the bedroom avoids the unsurprised wrongdoer. The dog and I jump off a diving board outside the open window, through a horizontal mullioned greenhouse roof, land on thick palm fronds growing from the ground unscathed, and make our escape.

 


 

Controlling a miniature airplane with my tech flies it around perfectly. I sit inside the tiny cockpit, soaring through the clouds, along a highway, under an overpass, and keep flying. I somehow maneuver through a bedroom window and land on the floor.

Editing as a Necessary Evil

Recently, I’ve been editing Remember. I don’t really like the editing process, but it’s a basic requirement of writing anything. It’s the antithesis of the writing. Editing is a nearly brainless activity in comparison. Editing something over and over still missing some errors is frustrating and motivation crushing. Typo blindness is troublesome. The writer knows the words they intended for the page. Not seeing a few typos each page isn’t really a hindrance for the person that wrote it. This WIRED article does a really good job explaining it. A novel is much more susceptible to typo blindness than say a 10-page research paper. A novel requires a lot of investment. Investment leads to seeing what you want to see, instead of what’s actually on the page.

 wired typos

That’s exactly what happened with Remember. A beta-reader pointed out several typos throughout the book. Unfortunately, I’d already put the ebook and paperback on Amazon. Exactly how that worked out is in an upcoming blog post. I quickly took off those listing. It wasn’t until a few months ago, but I reposted the unedited versions. I’m working on the edits as you’re reading this.

amazon listing 1

After the discovery of numerous typos, I worked out an editing plan. I’d already edited through four drafts at that point. I read slowly through each page twice. Once through a page and then again. Finding typos was easy. The work was time-consuming. I hadn’t yet found a method to stay motivated through more than an hour or so. Two or four pages a day. In a month of doing this, I lost all the motivation I could muster.

 

The blog has already featured the fruits of my procrastination. I feel too much guilt procrastinating on something completely useless. I have to justify it somehow. That’s how procrastination always starts, as a tangent that can somehow be connected back to the goal. I thought learning Photoshop would help me create book covers that I needed. Then After Effects to make a book trailer. Then 3D modeling for the book trailer. Then game development to practice 3D modeling. This happened in phases between more flawed editing.

wasting time

Through all this, my unconscious was entering the second epoch of my writing style. For some reason I can’t remember, I start thinking along the lines of clarity (an old blog post talked about a writer that showed me the way, Ella Dawson.) I recently read, the biggest mistake of a novice writer is trying to overcompensate for a perceived lack. Usually in the form of over-involved writing. That’s the symptom of Remember. Over complicated prose for confusing and difficult to understand writing. I reasoned if no one can understand what I’m writing, what’s the point. If it isn’t clear, there is no point.

 

I needed to simplify Remember. I decided to linearize it. Remember started out as two parallel story lines. One was six months ahead of the other. I jumped back and forth. The reader was getting lost. I cut out the boring stuff. Conor court trial and hospital stay were gutted (I’ll post them sometime). I moved the hook later in the novel. I needed a new hook, Conor’s life before the memory loss. What was Conor trying to remember? That should be up on here when I’m putting up the new version of Remember on Amazon.

 

I wanted the story to be more approachable and familiar. I started switching verb tenses to the past. Earlier in the editing process, I’d already switched out all the verbs for active ones. Tense switching would be much easier. I tried Find and Replace in Word. It was too finicky and took about as much time as the manual way. This verb switching actually helped in the long run. It sufficiently motivated me to cut more of Remember. Cutting from a novel has always been very difficult for me. This extra work of verb switching got me there.

 

remember cuts
Everything I cut from Remember.

 

Remember is almost finished. I’ve cut 14,000 words plus, and the novel is better because of it. Listening to music is the motivation I need for editing and typing at times.

 

Later, guys.

Photo Manipulations with Photoshop

This is a gallery of everything I’ve done so far. This is basically my way of procrastinating and not doing the work of writing. This series on Photoshop is wandering a little too far from the goal of this blog.  Most of these are from an up-coming anthology of my best writing in Remember. So here’s the gallery. Enjoy and click through to my Deviant Art page for full resolution.

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The Art of Query

After finishing and editing a book, the next step is publication. I’ve had a backup plan in case traditional publications doesn’t work out, self-publishing. There’re a lot of reasons to try traditional publishing. The reach of the work and the focus on writing versus marketing, among others.

Most publishers don’t consider work that isn’t agented. You can find a few smaller publishing houses that consider work directly from writers. So I needed an agent. The whole publishing business is completely foreign to me. Jane Friedman’s site helped a ton. Everything in this post is from there in some form. A great resource for anyone trying to get into the novel writing business.

jane-friedman.jpg

Getting an agent requires a finished manuscript. Then you write a query letter to agents. A query is a cover letter brought to its pinnacle. Basically, this query asks if an agent wants to receive your full manuscript. The easiest way through this process is with someone vouching for you. Very similar to job hunting. If someone can speak for you within the company, getting the job becomes much easier. Writing conferences are the best place as I’ve read. Still, need a query but much easier.

I don’t have any contacts in the publishing business. I need something that works as a great query. Getting traditionally published is very difficult.

jane friedman2

This article I found on Jane Friedmann’s website explains how to write one. First, find an agent that’ll like your book based on what they’ve represented before. Then research the agent and personalize the first paragraph as to how you book is a good fit for them. “I’m querying you because you represented X. I think [My book] would interest you.” Something like that.

Then you list the title and word count. The following paragraph is a short paragraph that sounds like the book. It should extol what the book’s about, it’s virtues, and hook the reader. This is basically like a summary with a hook.

The final paragraph is about your writing related biographical information. Finally, end with asking them to request the full manuscript. And “Thank you for the consideration” or something like that.

Include everything else as directed by the Agent’s submission guidelines. Take this very seriously and double check everything. Agent’s name included.

This is the first query I sent out to agents the first time around. As you can see I didn’t exactly follow those guidelines.

I’m writing you because you helped [X] by [Y] get published.

Please follow Connor Abby in Remember, a science fiction novel with more than a hint of science that runs in a space of 120.000+ words.

Connor Abby — a normal, everyday research scientist — ends up in the middle of an age-old conflict between altruistic science and a science-obsessed government, culminating in the murder of Irena Mekova. Connor undoubtedly gets embroiled in the situation partly due to factors beyond his control. Join him on a journey through a world of tech, dreams, and shifting alliances. Discover what he’s really capable of. Is Connor ultimately responsible? Is he guilty of murder? You decide!

Please request the full manuscript.

Thank you for the consideration,

 

I didn’t get positive replies. I thought the query didn’t really match the writing style of Remember. I tried a different query. This one below. I should’ve cut the biographical information. Nothing related to writing.

 

I am writing to you because, you helped [X] by [Y] get published. Please consider Remember, a science fiction novel that runs in the space of 107,077 words.

Conor passes through life streamlined against major shifts in the wind, until an engineered car accident sends his world off-kilter and onto a tangential trajectory. Conor Abby, scientist (neuroscience research), doctor, thinker, realist, friend, employee, lover, recovering from memory loss, everything feels new, but still familiar, living life, moving on, surviving with who he is, a person under pressure, someone’s thumb, forced into things beyond his control, espionage, murder, arson, thievery, subterfuge, almost anything, without losing the person he is, which is what exactly at this point? Who in the year 2417 takes interest in such a fellow? Whom? Well… everyone… from the government, terrorist groups, and possibly others but why? His ability to lie beyond methods of detection? Maybe his recollection of dreams, vivid and dense with detail, or maybe the actions he wills into being. There is just something about him that reconciles these roles, attributes even. Who is Conor Abby? Find out in Remember.

I have Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy, a degenerative disorder. This gives me a vast amount of medical experience that I’m more than willing to talk about. My life story begins with emigration from India under the auspices of the H1-B visa at age five. Most people think of me as smart, remembering information well, motivated, happy, and without any college degrees. What just a few people know is I have been meditating for various amounts of time, starting around ten years ago.

Please request the full manuscript of Remember.

Thank you for the consideration,

That didn’t change the results.

I had a lot to think about. Either my query, my writing, or something I sent wasn’t working. I did an internet search for first book length. It turned out, getting something over 50,000 words published as a new writer is very hard. That agreed with everything I’d seen. I knew getting Remember down to 50,000 words would be really hard.

I decided to self-publish Remember as an e-book and physical form. A post about that is coming up shortly. I delved into another writing project to reach a few goals. Under 50,000 words, the law of averages when it came to characters, four perspectives, relatable characters, real locations, New York, and 6 months for the first draft. It basically takes me 6 months to simply type 50,000 words. That’ll come soon. During this whole query process, I was writing the sequel to Remember. That’s on hold. Wrote up an entire plan. And wrote about 1/16 of the first draft in 2 months. That’s going up soon.

Slapped Together Book Cover

Remember is in need of a new cover. I made one that doesn’t look right. That was before researching anything and based on the covers of other Science Fiction books I’ve read. It was totally free and I made it myself. I used free graphic design software available easily on the web. I used Inkscape, something very similar to Adobe Illustrator.

inkscape

I went through the built-in tutorials that guide you through the tools available in the app. That was more than what I needed for a simple cover. I knew the results wouldn’t look professional, but it would be close enough. I would first need to find a stock photo. With Inkscape, I would add the title, author, and back description. I already wrote all of that. The best source for free stock images that can be left almost unchanged is Unsplash.com. They have lots of free images that can be used anywhere including print, physical output, or digital. I looked through hundreds searching for anything that could work. Going the free route without editing the pictures, it was really tough to find exactly what I was looking for. I also downloaded anything that I liked for future use.

silhoutte into space

Remember is about a guy that loses his identity. He tries to regain the person he was. I think this picture shows that. A person looking up at the stars. Stars are up in the abyss of outer space and could be thought to symbolize neurons. Star gazing could be thought of as a form of discovery.

I used the text tool to add the other components. The letter spacing sometimes required adjustment to make everything even.

I discovered a big problem. My protagonist is male and the silhouette is clearly female. I needed to cut out some areas of black and replace it with some part of the background. It’s much easier to do that in Photoshop. I used Inkscape. I drew shapes where the black needed to be removed. I copied the image and everything I drew. I deselected everything. I moved the drawn shapes over a place that matched the area I wanted to replace. Then I selected the image followed by the drawn shape. I went to: Object > Clip > Set. That cut the shape outlines from the background image. I repositioned the cutouts where the black had to be removed.

That got me this. Second attempt but good I think. I didn’t look like a book cover from a publishing house still.

I also made this alternate cover with a picture I found. I counter shaded the text.

altcover3

Later Blog Readers

Jailed

A fictional construct of the mind.

 


 

I hang, suspended by this ball of cast iron bars, high up in some leafy mammoth. A firm, swift tug on the rope holding the cage — through some form of pulley — sends me down from whatever method of comfort I have necessarily employed. I land with the grace of land-bound seal or walrus upon the welt-inducing corrugation of metal bars and air. The descent into the light penetrating fog — beautifully hiding the goings-on at the surface — perpetrates an animalistic, lizard-brain originating rage through me.

The moment of release lies near as through thickening fog a group emerges. The usual screams and yells of fear, anger, and hatred fill the air accompanied by a single wail of deep longing and hurt. From within the heart of the assembly, two people, my parents come forth, tear soaked and still streaming. I extend one arm by the cage, out to them, which they hang to with desperate and strong hands. At this, my ascent to prison and isolation begin as every other day, my endless cycles of suffering continual. Grabbing the bars (seen as fitting) is the recourse of choice. I shake my cage wildly, issuing a guttural sound from deep down. An abrupt drop of this cell knocks me out.

The Confluence of Light and Dark/Water and Sand/Life and Death

A dream, this time with two possible interpretations or even more. Smooth, rolls of the tongue, and a little new.

Enjoy.

I am at the beach — everything dark, except for the moon. Its light suffuses like a bright candle, in a completely dark landscape, highlighting water and earth. The bright, pure light emanating from its heart cascades, segmented over the dark water, as it sets. My feet hide buried in the sand just in the wet area. The warm waters break over the sand and my ankles. The moon starts transforming, becoming more elongated and oval. It turns into a complex shape, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. The moon comes closer and gets brighter, while the light grows warmer and gentler. I grab its out stretched hand and pull myself up. The hold, leads me into the water. We get in deep enough that I can barely reach the bottom and shut my eyes. The moonlight culminates in brightness and almost fades away through covered eyes. I open my visuals to the almost set moon.

The beach beckons before the evanescent, ethereal light. I am held fast to the seafloor by the hard cold of steel against my ankles. All my strength writhes in a desperate attempt to swim away, with no fighting it. I stay here, as all other options betray me. The water starts moving in waves, gradually rising. I can’t move higher in the water — my bondage has seen to that. The water’s at my chin and elevating. I take one big breath and dive, to investigate my feet bound with an inescapable ring of iron. Lunging to the surface proves too far. My arms barely reach, let alone my head. I struggle to get my breath, to no avail. Involuntarily, I breathe out.