Monthly Archives: April 2011
Slower progress, but still going strong…

Well, last weekend wasn’t great for progress; the activities of Passover week took priority, which is part of why I didn’t post an update or check-in on Sunday. However, when I wasn’t caught up in all that, I have been busy. Let’s review the goals I’ve completed or am in the process of completing:

*DONE* 01) Complete revisions of MOST LIKELY….

*DONE* 02) Send MOST LIKELY… to my group of beta-readers and request a one-week turnaround.

There were complete a while ago. Nothing new to see here.

*IN PROGRESS* 03) Revise MOST LIKELY… based on beta-readers’ feedback.

Yup, I have all my beta-readers feedback in hand … I’ve had it for a week now and I’m still revising. I’ve incorporated the changes of three out of four beta readers, but have one remaining by someone kind enough to be quite thorough; what a blessing!

04) Send MOST LIKELY… to editor.

I am hoping to reach this goal soon; perhaps by the weekend. I want the manuscript out to my editor by then, if at all possible. It will be a challenge because the work I’m doing is deeper and more extensive. But that’s fine because MOST LIKELY will be a better novel for it.

*REVISED* 05) During the time MOST LIKELY is with MY EDITOR, begin and try to complete a short novel. Either the EMBER prequel or the IDEA WAREHOUSE (working title) concept. Doesn’t matter which, just need something to write in the meantime.

I was unable to act on this goal while my novel was out to my beta-readers, because I was beta-reading for a colleague myself, and I wanted to be as thorough as others had been toward me. I also have a second pending beta-reading project on my desk, so I may or may not get to my next project quite as soon as expected. But I’m putting this task here as a goal to aspire to.

*IN PROGRESS* 06) Final preparations on MOST LIKELY…

I do have some of these tasks completed already. I commissioned a cover from someone other than myself, because sometimes it’s better to have a cover built by someone with a fresh set of eyes. As you can see in the previous post below this one, Glendon Haddix of Streetlight Graphics did an excellent job!

There will be more to do once I get the edited manuscript back; but at least some of this is in the works.

The remaining goals are still a bit further off:

07) Publish MOST LIKELY… to Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Nobel Nook, Smashwords and CreateSpace for the print version.
08) Finish draft on first short novel project.
09) Do other short novel.
10) Revise both short novels and send to betas.
11) Return, at last, to EMBER and push to finish first draft before ROW80 Round 2 expires.
12) On writing days (as opposed to revision days) average 4,000 new words per day.

I should note that I have had some time taken up by other professional pursuits; since I have no day job to keep money flowing in, I’ve been looking for ways to improve that situation.

My eBook cover design service is averaging about one new client per week, which is quite encouraging. And I’ve signed up as a subcontractor to another company, where I’ll be offering some eBook and print layout/design services to their clients.

Sure, these tasks take some time away from my writing; but nowhere near as much time as a traditional day-job. And a person has to have some money coming in somehow, right? And this is stuff I enjoy.

So that’s where things stand for me; I’m hoping to get MOST LIKELY published in early May, but stay tuned for the exact timeframe.

MOST LIKELY cover revealed!

As I am closing in on publication of my first novel, MOST LIKELY, I felt it was time to finally reveal the actual cover of the book. While I design book covers myself on the low-cost side of things, sometimes it’s best to turn to others when it comes to designing covers for your own work. Such was the case with MOST LIKELY.

For this cover, I turned to Glendon Haddix of Streetlight Graphics, whose work I have admired since at least last September when he came up with some nifty graphics for Amanda Hocking’s Zombiepalooza event. Sure enough, Glendon presented me with a wealth of options.

The thing he nailed right away was the typography; I knew immediately he’d delivered a winner in that respect, so the only work that remained to be done was to get the right imagery behind it. After narrowing it down, I ended up with three very strong candidates, two of which were personal favorites. I then polled some friends at Kindleboards.com to get their takes.

In the end, based on feedback, I selected the cover you see below! (And I even held one of the other designs in reserve, just in case I ever want to change it.) Glendon was fast, professional, generous and courteous; a great collaborator to work with. Highest recommendation, as I’m sure the cover below will make clear.

MOST LIKELY Cover

The cover for MOST LIKELY was designed by Glendon Haddix of Streetlight Graphics.

Busy without being busy?

If it’s possible to be busy without really being busy, that describes how I’ve spent the past week.

I’ve had Passover obligations taking up some of my time, and discussions and activities centered around our pending move to Oregon as well. However, I have completed some tasks.

First, I finished beta-reading a novel for one of the folks beta-reading my novel. That took up some time while I was waiting for my feedback to come back to me.

Also, I received some more interest in my book cover services, had to do my 2010 taxes and get them filed on Monday, and have just been kept busy with a lot of “urgent, but not really” kinds of activities.

By Monday night, however, I had all my beta-reader feedback in my hands. Today, I finally have some time to start implementing changes. So far, I’ve worked my way through three out of four of the feedback copies, but the one the remains is the one that proved most helpful to me, so that will require more work. I’ll be getting on that one tonight.

I’ve been hesitant to call MOST LIKELY a “Christian fiction” novel, but the feedback I’ve received has convinced me that this is the most proper label for it; a young-adult Christian fiction novel.

I’ve resisted the label for a few reasons. First, not everything I wrote is going to have spiritual themes or be classified as Christian fiction, so I didn’t want to be pinned with that label on everything I write. Second, I’m not exactly a mainstream believer anyway, as a Messiani Rabbi In Training, so the Christian label doesn’t fit me quite right.

It does, I must now admit, fit MOST LIKELY, however.

So I’m now engaged in pulling back on some of the rough language and elements that might offend a faith-based audience. As for my forthcoming books that are not “Christian” or containing spiritual themes, I’ll just have to market each one individually enough to make reader expectations clear.

It’s been suggested to me I develop a pen name for my more mainstream fiction. That doesn’t appeal to me; if feels like hiding part of who I am, and I have no interest in that. I think it’ll just be better to make clear, somehow, what type of novel each one is.

Here’s the first heads-up, my dear readers:

MOST LIKELY is a young adult novel with Christian themes. There are no embedded sermons. There’s no salvation prayer in it, or anything cheesy like that. There’s no companion Bible study. It’s a novel, a piece of entertainment. But the themes are faith-friendly. It’s hopefully more a novel about growing up and learning to set aside childish expectations and deal with the world in all its complexity. Spirituality is not the novel’s sole concern. But there are themes like that in there.

EMBER and its spin-offs will not be similar. It’s a young adult paranormal suspense series, and while it will be considered “clean” entertainment, it’s not a series intended for a faith-based audience. It’s mainstream YA paranormal suspense.

Other projects will fall in other categories, and ultimately, over on MessianicMusings.com, I’ll be announcing my theological books as they come to fruition.

All of my projects, whether they are spiritually-themed fiction, mainstream fiction, or nonfiction theological/inspirational works, will all be published under my name: Craig Hansen.

The fact that I’ll be publishing a wider variety of books than some authors will make things a bit more complex, sure. But I hope that will be something that will develop difference audiences for each type of book I write.

Enjoy the ride!

Trading betas

In terms of new writing of my own, I haven’t been very busy so far this week. That’s not to say I haven’t been busy, though.

As MOST LIKELY is in the hands of my beta-reading team, I’ve been hard at work beta reading as well. Two of my beta readers agreed to swap beta-reading favors with me, and one finished only a couple days later than I did, so the timing is perfect; as she reads MOST LIKELY, I’m reading her manuscript.

However, I’m around or over halfway done right now and as the novel’s picked up momentum, I’m finding less and less to point out or draw attention to. I should be done well before the week is out, though, so hopefully I’ll find some time to get some progress done on another project of my own.

Plus I have some paid blogging assignments coming my way in the next day or two. And I was commissioned to create two book covers this week as well, so that felt nifty.

The other “life thing” taking up my time is that my wife and I firmed up our commitment to leave Minnesota at the end of our current lease. My father, who will turn 89 just before we move, is coming with us, God willing.

So this week we gave our official notice, extending our current lease by one month so that we can pack up and begin our move in late August for a September 1 move-in date at our next destination; if all goes well, that’ll be Oregon. We spent a fair amount of time this week surveying apartments and town homes for rent in the Portland and Salem areas. We’re hoping to wind up closer to Portland, though definitely in the suburbs.

And that’s my week so far. The rest of the week should contain more beta-reading, perhaps some fresh writing, and then the start of pre-final edit revisions.

Goals met, goals await…

Hello again.

Well, we are officially at the end of Week 1 with today’s check-in, and I have significant progress to report. MOST LIKELY is now in the hands of my beta readers and my editor. I can tell already that there will be need for revisions following such feedback, but MOST LIKELY is now on the down-slope toward release, rather than the up-slope. Which is good.

Let’s check in on my goals:

DONE 1) Complete revisions of MOST LIKELY….

DONE 2) Send MOST LIKELY… to my group of beta-readers and request a one-week turnaround.

That’s two goals down, and 10 to go! Here’s that list:

3) During the time MOST LIKELY is with my beta-readers, begin and try to complete a short novel. Either the EMBER prequel or the IDEA WAREHOUSE (working title) concept. Doesn’t matter which, just need something to write int he meantime.

4) Revise MOST LIKELY… based on beta-readers’ feedback.

5) Send revised MOST LIKELY… to editor.

6) Final preparations on MOST LIKELY…

7) Publish MOST LIKELY… to Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Smashwords.

8) Finish draft on first short novel project.

9) Do other short novel.

10) Revise both short novels and send to betas.

11) Return, at last, to EMBER and push to finish first draft before ROW80 Round 2 expires.

12) On writing days (as opposed to revision days) average 4,000 new words per day.

So, that’s plenty of work ahead yet, but with my full-time writing schedule, I need it.

A few side-notes are in order, however.

A) I’ve launched a super-low-priced eBook cover design service for first-time authors, and it’s started to take off! I have had two clients in the last eight days, so that’s not bad at all!

B) I have some in-kind beta readings to do coming up.

C) I’ve helped my wife correct some papers this week, and done about 15 paid-blogging posts on other sites.

All in all, it’s kept me busy, but I’m enjoying the work. I played around for a while today with a couple new tools… StoryBox and StoryBook. I didn’t find either quite to my liking. One was too complex and the other seems a bit too centered on prep-tasks rather than writing, so for now I’m going to stick with what worked well on MOST LIKELY, and that is to use FocusWriter for first-drafts and MS Word 2007 for file-prep, revisions, formatting, etc.

My goal for tomorrow is to finish a cover I’ve been commissioned to create, and get some sort of start on either IDEA WAREHOUSE or my EMBER prequel.

MOST LIKELY now in hands of beta readers, editor

Whew!

After an intense week of revisions, updating and formatting, MOST LIKELY is in the hands of my beta readers and my editor. Talk about relief? I now have a week to invest in other projects, as well as working on covers for MOST LIKELY, before I expect to get the feedback back.

MOST LIKELY will, I hope, debut on Amazon Kindle, BN/Nook and Smashwords before April is over, if all goes well!

Stay tuned for further developments.

Rolling through revisions

Well, here I am, clocking in my first check-in of Round 2 of ROW 80. I laid out several ambitious goals for this new session, but fortunately I’m well into the first goal on that list.

I wrote that I needed to complete revisions on my novel, MOST LIKELY… as the first priority. I began those revisions last weekend, just before sign-up on Sunday. I’m doing this first check-in a day late, but as of Thursday afternoon, I stand at nearly three-fouths of the way complete, and I expect to polish off the last 15,000 words either tonight or tomorrow and get the manuscript off to my beta readers and my editor.

That’ll take a couple notches off my checklist. Not bad for the first check-in, eh? How are all of your doing?

See you Sunday for the next check-in.

ROW 80 Round 2 goals

As promised, I’m taking part in A Round of Words In 80 Days (ROW80) Round Two! So I need to bring everyone up-to-date and set down my goals.

In the interim between Round 1 and Round 2, I did complete a draft of MOST LIKELY…, just as I expected to. I actually finished it off on in the wee hours of Thursday morning (post-midnight on Wednesday). In all, MOST LIKELY… in its current form ran 60,682 words. That’s about what I expected. In the second half of entering it in, I became a bit more revisionist in my approach; I cut a scene because it was set in a church and came off preachy. So now, it’s not. I also added in what I hope are some deeper insights and better renderings of the critical scenes that round out my novel.

After getting sleep Thursday, I downloaded the Smashwords Style Guide by Mark Coker to get a good handle on how to keep my eBook from becoming, well… freaky in MS Word. Not only will this help with Smashwords formatting, but it should make things easier when I format for Kindle and Nook separately. It helped a lot.

I also launched an author presence for myself on Facebook. I gave Facebook up well over a year ago, because it became an addiction robbing me of all my time. Since then, I’ve started a Twitter presence and have managed well, so since I know authors need a Facebook presence as well as a Twitter feed these days, I’m all set to go in terms of social media.

I then divided the book up from an original total of 25 smaller chapters, instead of a mere six mega-chapters. So it should be more reader-friendly for current audiences. I then began on Friday to actually revise from page one. I made it through the first chapter; or at least, the new chapter one. Then the Sabbath began and I took it off, as I almost always do.

Tonight and tomorrow (Sunday) I will continue revising MOST LIKELY…, which will bring us to Monday’s Day One kickoff of Row 80 Round 2.

Round 2 of ROW 80 begins Monday, April 04, 2011. Here are my goals for the new 80-day challenge.

1) Complete revisions of MOST LIKELY….

2) Send MOST LIKELY… to my group of beta-readers and request a one-week turnaround.

3) During the time MOST LIKELY is with my beta-readers, begin and try to complete a short novel. Either the EMBER prequel or the IDEA WAREHOUSE (working title) concept. Doesn’t matter which, just need something to write int he meantime.

4) Revise MOST LIKELY… based on beta-readers’ feedback.

5) Send MOST LIKELY… to editor (unless editor is among beta readers).

6) Final preparations on MOST LIKELY…

7) Publish MOST LIKELY… to Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Nobel Nook, and Smashwords.

8) Finish draft on first short novel project.

9) Do other short novel.

10) Revise both short novels and send to betas.

11) Return, at last, to EMBER and push to finish first draft before ROW80 Round 2 expires.

12) On writing days (as opposed to revision days) average 4,000 new words per day.

It’s an ambitious list, but as a full-time writer now (unemployed), it’s certainly not unrealistic. So those are my ROW80 goals. I’ll keep you appraised.