The Draft is the thing!

So, the book is finished! What’s next? The fun part!


Sitting back and relishing in the afterglow of a job well done?


Yeah, you’d like to think that, but nope. I seriously doubt a book is perfect the first time out of the gate. I know mine aren’t. little things slip through in the writing. Be it continuity issues, ideas that pop up at the end that need to be addressed in earlier chapters or just plain ‘What the crap was I thinking?’ moments, you have to go back and see exactly what your mind has puked out and tried to call great fiction. This puking thing might go on for what we author types like to call a couple drafts, so don’t think for one minute finishing a novel is the end of the road. There’s still a lot of work to do before your editor gets their hands on it and tells you all the stuff you still need to do.


Insert a heart felt groan here.


So what is the secret to getting it near perfect enough to satisfy even the most ardent of editors? There is none so don’t even try. There I said it. But, I will share how I go about getting it done to a certain degree of being perfect.


First off, the puking your brain up draft, or as some people would like to call the first draft.


This is both the hardest and easiest part of the process. Hardest because it is fraught with writer’s blocks, coming up with ideas, getting characters to act the way you want them to, dangling subplots, etc etc etc. You get the idea. Easiest because you’re working with a blank page. You’ve got no preconceived concepts to get in the way of you just writing. You literally have untold worlds to play with and play with them you shall. That’s what writers do, play. You’ve got your characters set in your mind. You know basically what will happen, maybe not when it will happen, but the general idea. And you’re off! Who knows in four or five months you might even be finished?


And, we’re on to second base. Sorry for the pseudo sexual innuendo, but I am a romance novelist.


The second draft is what I like to call the story cleanup stage of the procedure. That’s what this is, a surgical strike to save the life of a good book, and make it better than before, stronger, quirkier, and put a heart into it that beats for the multitude of readers to come. Nurse, we need gauze stat!


So, the book is finished. You might have even presumed to type the end on the last page and everything, but it is far from finished. Things have gone wrong here and there. Now is your chance to fix the fabric of space and time in your universe. With a keen perception of your own shortcomings, you dig in and read your book with the eye of an author. You tweak here, ponder there, and generally see what you did wrong, and pat yourself on the back for the things you did amazingly well. This whole process can sometimes take as long as it took to write the stinking book, but as you grow as a writer, that time is cut down, because you’ve learned your lesson over countless hours of editing. Yay for you! You might even spot some grammatical boo boos.


Doubt it but hey, that’s what the third draft is for!


Bear in mind, this third draft is purely if you have time before you miss that deadline you’ve been dreading. Sometimes you get it done. Sometimes you just smile and cross your fingers. I tend to do that last one a lot, in case you’re wondering. I don’t want to stress this point too strongly, but this is your last chance to spiff things up before the professionals get their hands on it. What does that mean exactly? Fix the grammar to the best of your abilities. Make sure your hero named Studly is named Studly throughout the book and not Stewart on page 134, and Stuart on pages 66, 23, and 189. Trust me, it happens.


Basically, this last edit is your first chance to impress your editor right out of the gate. Sure, it’s a long shot because nobody is perfect. You’ve just spent every free moment of your life on this baby. You’ve lived this thing, but living it puts you too close to the action. Your mind has filled in blanks that your typing fingers haven’t. You’ve stayed up late into the night and garbled sentences that later on your brain sees the way you meant them and allows your eyes to skip off. Don’t beat yourself over the fact. We all do it.


The key to overcoming this is not to take yourself too seriously, and above all things, don’t take things personally. An editor pointing out flaws is not a slam against your work. It’s the truth. We’re flawed individuals, so why shouldn’t our books be flawed too? Learn from your mistakes. Don’t sulk in a corner and blame it on everyone but you. Trust that fresh eyes, see things we can’t. If you can do that, you just might be on the road to growing in your craft. Then, you will be what you’ve always dreamed of being…


An honest to goodness author.

This is the End, almost

The End!


Two more beautiful words don’t exist in the entirety of the human language. Well, they don’t if you’re an author. Believe me. As one, I know. Why this sudden wafting poetic over a couple words that wouldn’t get you out of the hole on a Scrabble board? Because after almost five months of hard work, I just wrote them.


What? Writing hard work? You better believe it. Nothing strains the mental membrane faster than trying to multitask. Authors are kings of multitasking. Most of us work day jobs, we juggle that odious task with having families, some of us even have actual lives and finally wrap all that up with attempting to spend as much of our time living in a fantasy world as we can without being locked up in the ye old padded room for our troubles and you have the ultimate in multitasking. How do we do it? In a constant state of paranoia and panic. Bet you’ll never see that printed in the fine print of the job description. But, it ought to be on there somewhere.


Then again, authors are fickle beasts at the best of times. We’re talented and imaginative. The flip side of that is, we’re insecure, obsessive, demanding, shy, reclusive, or overtly outgoing. If all that wasn’t enough to get us a lifetime engagement on a therapy couch, we tend to talk about people that only exist in our minds, and expect those around us to know exactly who we’re talking about. We truly do live in our own heads.


And, it only gets worse when we’re writing. We’re a different type of crazy when we can’t write, but don’t expect me to go into that. I wouldn’t want to scare people off or anything.


Writing is a series of emotional highs and lows. The first pages are fevered orgasmic bursts releasing all the energy trapped inside your mind onto the screen. Sometimes, those first hours of writing result in the expelling of thousands of words, as the joy of the new chase, new worlds to be explored, overwhelms you. Each sentence is an adventure leading to the next. Your mind is focused on these wonderful characters that have been nothing more than whispering voices in the back of your brain. Ideas supercharge your imagination. You see so many possibilities that they all feel right.


That’s when the trouble starts, or as I like to call it, the hump that becomes the Himalayas. All those ideas bottleneck somewhere in the middle. All the options that fueled your initial rush of words and story becomes the biggest hindrance to doing the meat of writing — writing! Instead of focusing on the best option, you pick them all. Then, you begin to doubt yourself. Sometimes a little doubt is good, but when it becomes the stumbling block preventing you from seeing daylight, that’s when you have a certain number of roads open to you. Stepping back. Starting something new and coming back to it is a short fix, but sometimes it works. When your brain isn’t agonizing over the story, it can suddenly see the answer. Choice two, is the easiest and the hardest at the same time if you’re truly a writer. Just quit. Go back to watching television, or maybe do crossword puzzles to quiet all those voices in your head, because they won’t leave. They’re going to stay in your head bugging you until you have no recourse except to go crazy or write. You decide.


Once you’ve decided to go back to writing, things tend to move faster. All the plot elements miraculously start knitting together in your head. You see the path from Point A to Point B. Even a twist or two you never thought about pops into your head. Sure, it means some fleshing out at the beginning, but you don’t care. The plan is all coming together. You could write a million words, you’re so high on the rush of writing.


But, you’re not through yet. Once the heady scent of The End is in the air, that doubt returns. Have you done everything you could do to make this story your best? Did you dot that I or cross it? Dear Sweet Muse! What if no one likes this book? You get the picture. The point is you’re there. For all intents and purposes, the book is finished except for two little words. The words that have sat in the back of your mind since day one. With them, you are finally free to explore new worlds, new adventures, meet new people. So, if you are brave enough strive for the greatness they imply. Strive to be the creator of magic.


Strive for The End.

Interview with a Superhero Muse


It is I, Jmo’s evil cone Dark Jmo, again taking over his blog for my nefarious schemes. What else could I do when I heard he had created his own super hero to battle me? I couldn’t very well have that happening. It would seriously mess with my plans for world domination. Nope, that wouldn’t work at all! Especially since he has enlisted an Egyptian deity to thwart my machinations. So, to that end, I’ve sealed him in a giant action figure box. I did all the artwork myself. Doesn’t it look snazzy?

But, I digress. So, what am I going to do about this hero of his? Using my Scottian transportation device, I will simply snag Jmo’s hero from whatever timestream he might be existing within and trap him here in my Giant Gerbil Ball of Death! Brahahwahwahwawhawa!

Now, let my evil unfold. Feel free to insert a bunch of dastardly evil genius stuff here ending with me pushing yonder red button to activate my device. Voila, there he is, trapped like… Well, a gerbil!

Dark Jmo: You’re not Horus! You’re some… Some teenager! Be well warned I will not brook any drooping pants or the least sign of underwear. I will not have it! Now, who are you?

Patrick Michael: I am your worst nightmare, Patrick Michael!

Dark Jmo: So, you’re the inspiration for my clone’s character in Scrolls of Eternity: Rebirth. Hmmm. How exactly did that come about?

Patrick Michael: I have no idea how I became the hero, but I like it.

Dark Jmo: Is this the first time you’ve been forced to wield a cosmic power? And, how do you feel about that? I mean does it tickle in the least when you Shazam into another person?

Patrick Michael: It is my first time with cosmic powers. It’s awesome though. I can fly, shoot lasers from my hands, and I have super strength. But, I haven’t Shazamed someone yet.

Dark Jmo: Okay, so what is this Scrolls of Eternity all about? Does evil triumph in the end? I do like stories where evil triumphs in the end, but it so rarely happens.

Patrick Michael: Sadly (for you), evil did not win (again) because of my awesome powers. Oh, and an awesome writer. I didn’t want my powers at first, then my family was in danger, so I didn’t have a choice. No one messes with my family.

Dark Jmo: Nope, not my type of story in the least. To distract me from the sad ending, tell me what super power you wish you had on a permanent basis.

Patrick Michael: Hmmmmm… super strength sure would help with gym class… and if I could fly I could fly to Hawaii… I couldn’t ask for more than that.

Dark Jmo: According to this website blurb, you were the cover model for this comic book travesty. How did you like all that heroic posing? Was it fun? Did it make you tickle? The hot lights must have damaged your tender flesh. Please say that it did.

Patrick Michael: The lights were hot, but I’ll live. Posing was very, very, very frustrating and I don’t want to be posing until the next book. Although, I can say to my friends that I am a cover model. How many can say that?


Dark Jmo: Yes, yes…they must be quite envious of your Calvin Kleiness. Still, it isn’t enough to satisfy my Lokian nature. All this non-evilness is beginning to bore me. Since this is degrading into an episode of Oprah, what is the one thing you hope young readers will come away with after finishing this fictionalized account of your life?

Patrick Michael: Ummm… entertainment? I can’t think of something emotional. As long as people like what they read, I’m fine with that. I have no idea what the writer would want readers to think.

Jmo: If I wasn’t tied up and shoved into this giant action figure box, I’d want readers to come away with a sense that good always beats evil, and that growing up isn’t so hard as long as you have friends and family standing beside you.

Dark Jmo: Hesh it, you goodie goodie, before you ruin your mint-in-box status. All this consorting with heroes is upsetting my digestion. I think I need a nap, but before I go, I would like to thank my kidnap victim for being a good sport. Don’t worry, Mr. High and Mighty Superhero, the gerbil ball will dissolve in an hour or so. Until it does, feel free to roll it around the room. While you do that, I will make an amazingly inventive getaway. The rest of you folks out there reading this blog, you will stare into my hypnotic glare. Yes, this Scrolls of Eternity is the book you’ve been dying to read. You will click off this window immediately using one of the links below and buy multiple copies for yourself and your friends.

Now, I must make that highly inventive getaway. Look! Elvis. And, I’m out of here. Come back next when Jmo will bore you with his inane diatribes. If he is able to free himself from my Mint-in-Box of Doom! Brahwahwawawawa!

Jmo: Sorry about that, guys. You know how evil clones are. Still, if any of you were caught up in that hypnotic stare, here are the links Dark Jmo was talking about and have an amazing week!

Desert Breeze Publishing


Barnes and Noble