Tag Archives: John Christian Hager

First Edit for Chapter 12 of MGC Finished: Free Sample!

It shouldn’t have taken a week for this, but there was also a lot of family stuff in there. I also worked a bit on some other things, so I wasn’t exactly dawdling. This chapter was much more emotional than the others I’ve done, which I think the sample displays pretty well. I debated about whether to keep this in, and in the end, keeping won. There’s precious little Naddi and Conrad history in the novel, and this scene includes that. In fact, I think there’s too little of Naddi in the book entirely, but, even though I like her, she isn’t the focus. There’s also a lot of current Naddi and Conrad here, which I also like.

The Tale of the Tape: I gained a couple of hundred words without sacrificing hardly anything on my Flesch stats, so that was okay. That was mostly due to word choices and clarity issues. Really looking forward to the second editing on this one. One thing: I need to pick up the pace drastically on this or the final edit will be done by my heirs. Sheesh!

A Random 250 (or so) Words:

12 250 wd image

Up Next: some basic sorting of original information for a new short project and a new long project, then a rough of MGC Chapter 18. After that, it’s the first Edit on Chapter 13 and a free sample. Triskaidekaphobia, anyone?

Thanks for reading!

First Edit for Chapter 11 of MGC Finished: Free Sample!

That took a while longer than I expected. In between the stuff going on at home and the other things I was doing, it’s been six weeks since the last time I provided a sample of something I finished editing. And I think I know why.

I added 800 words to this chapter from the rough to the end of the first edit.

Now, wait, let me explain. Chapter 11 of MGC brings back two characters that I’ve written about already in my novel Turning Springs (get your copy at my Smashwords dot com profile page). If you’ve read the work (you have read it, haven’t you?), you’ll recognize them right away, but their role in the current work needs to be addressed. That adds words. If you haven’t read it (I know, some of you haven’t read it), you need to know who they are, and why they’re there. That adds words. In addition, there’s a creepy and unusual aspect to their arrival on the scene, which also adds words. It’s longer, yes, but there’s a lot going on that didn’t make sense to put into separate chapter. And, as I read through it, it didn’t seem longer, because there’s an agitated quality to the dialogue that moves the scene along.

I know I broke the rules with this one, but keeping the rules intact would have ultimately served the work poorly. I’ve always found shorter chapters in the midst of longer ones to be a bit of a distraction, so I kept the longer one. I’m happy with it.

Tale of the Tape: Aside from coming in 800 words longer, I really didn’t work on it all that long in the six weeks. I was dealing with other projects (one large and one small) that aren’t ready for sampling yet and life stuff, so I probably spent eight or ten hours on the chapter total. My Flesch scores are all comparable, which tells me, after 800 extra words, I didn’t do much damage to the chapter’s readability. I don’t want to do it all the time, of course, but I’m glad it worked out the way it did.

A Random 250 (or so) Words:

11 Edit1 250 wds

Up Next: Smaller stuff, then another MGC rough and another MGC edit (with an accompanying free sample, natch).

Thanks for reading!

New Stuff Synopses Finished: Two Good, One Bad

So, that took a while, since July 16, as a matter of fact. In that time, I’ve also had a couple of mowings, a week-long visit from family (and several other family events) . Oh, and the release of Of Sentimental Value on Smashwords dot com (access my profile here). A busy month apart from writing, but I still found time to squeeze out two synopses for new material. And kill one other.

The first synopsis is something I’ve been worrying (playing with, not anxious with) for several months, so I finally committed to putting a work out. It’s a brand-new dieselpunk setting within a multi-theistic society. The first tagline I’ve come up with is “Sometimes belief is enough, especially for the gods.”
The production title is “CNF” and, because this will be my next short project, you’ll see regular (irregular?) updates here in the coming days.

The second synopsis is another Turning Springs work, with wind-up mechanical constructs in the old west. A sheriff must solve a murder just days before the election for his office, and his only witness is a machine that will lose its memory of the murder on the day before the votes are cast. Tagline? “Sometimes you do what’s right, whether it’s wrong or not.” (Too Yogi Berra? Hmm. Maybe.) The production title is “HDQ”, but you’re not likely to see any updates until after CNF has been sent out for copyright registration.

The third synopsis…well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Now it just seems bitter, preachy, and unpleasant. It’s too bad, because I wanted to have three items available for the next run. On the plus side, this is the way the process is supposed to work: it weeds out the junk before I spend a lot of time on it.

The good news? I finished killing off the third synopsis a few days ago and put that part of the process to bed.  As it happened over the weekend, I got an idea for another one. That’ll go into the process with a couple of others after HDQ goes out for copyright registration. Everybody’s got a place in line; no pushing, no shoving.

Comments or questions? I’d love to hear from you.

Next up:  I’m roughing an MGC chapter, first editing another one, and putting out a sample of the edited chapter here. Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading!

“Of Sentimental Value” Released Today

                                    2 Cover Rebuild

Good news, folks! My newest short work (less than 9500 words) has been released on Smashwords dot com.

The basic downloads for each device are available now for those whose skills allow them to load the correct format for the correct device. It’s not difficult for any of the e-readers to load a file from a website and many sites have detailed directions for that, including Smashwords dot com. For those of you who prefer to let the distributor handle the loading of your machine, OSV isn’t available yet. Platforms such as Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo will have OSV at some point in the coming days, but I’m not sure when. I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

For now, you can download “Of Sentimental Value” for 0.99 USD (or download a free sample of the first half of the work) in a format of your choosing by going to this address:  http://bit.ly/18PaExs That takes you directly to the page for the work.

More news as I have it. Thanks for reading!

“Of Sentimental Value” cover image

I promised and here it is: the cover for my new short work that releases Friday, August 2 on Smashwords dot com. (GAAH! That’s this Friday!).

                             2 Cover Rebuild

Everything is going according to schedule and plan. Really looking forward to it.

Note: those looking for “Of Sentimental Value” from Smashwords Premium Channels (Apple’s bookstore, etc) may have to wait a day or two to get their copy. Smashwords needs to crunch formats to make sure everything works right. Watch this space or my social media addresses for news. You’ll know when I know.

Thanks for reading!

A Big Little Announcement

At the beginning of next month, I’ll have a brand new work out on Smashwords dot com. It’s a shorter piece, just over nine thousand words, called “Of Sentimental Value”. It takes place in the alternate American West I created in my novel Turning Springs (still available at Smashwords) that features clockwork mechanical servants of all kinds.

In “Of Sentimental Value”, the servant is a mechanical dog owned by the meanest lady in St. Anne, Illinois. She wants to have larger teeth installed onto her cherished pet by traveling technician Albert Tinker so it can defend itself. As it turns out, the necessity isn’t what it seems, and helping people doesn’t always help them.

“Of Sentimental Value” is suitable for ages 10 and up with no bad language or other questionable situations. It will be available for download (only) at Smashwords starting August 2, 2013 for $0.99 USD per copy.

I’ll be promoting the work on Twitter, my Facebook writing Page, Google Plus, and on this blog occasionally through the end of this month. I welcome all comments on my work and I hope to hear from you.

Up next in a week or so? The cover, natch. Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading!

MGC Ch. 10: Edit 1 Complete

This was kind of a tough chapter for me to complete.  And not just because my last post was ten days ago. I had never really been convinced that this chapter, titled “Samuel Hunter’s Complaint”, was necessary. For most of it, I was pushing it to the grave, not letting myself remember why I put it in there in the first place. Once I started picking it apart and putting it back together and answering the questions that my process poses for each chapter, I was able to save it and even like it. But liking it is never the issue: whether it fits in with the story you’re trying to tell and the message that story should tell to the reader? That’s the ONLY issue that matters. That’s the thing that has kept this project alive for me for almost four years; it maintains its relevance.

Tale of the Tape:  This really didn’t take too much elbow grease. My Flesch scores only varied by a couple of tenths from start to finish, while the word count only increased by one. It took about three hours all told to get it done. I only made two changes in the text-to-speech step, which is usually a lot more detailed than that. Nice to say what you want to say and how you want to say it the first time.  The worst part was pulling “smart quotes” out of the document.

A Random 250 (or so) Words:

10 Edit1 250 wds

Up Next:  I’m going to sort through my myriad stacks of papers and notebooks and piles of story notes and see if I can round up three short projects to stuff into the pipeline in between the novel work. I want to keep my work out there and new stuff is the best way to do that. I’ve got one in mind already; two more shouldn’t be that difficult, right? Right? After those are started, I’ll pen another update with some vague details, then it’s back to MGC, writing the rough for Chapter 17 and editing Chapter 11.

Aside from, of course, the little thing happening on August 2nd. The little big thing. Details tomorrow.

Thanks for reading!

MGC Chapter 9: First Edit complete

This chapter, titled “The Way Out of Town”,  took much longer than I expected, with a lot of personal stuff, financial stuff, and lawn care intervening.  It has been about a week since I worked on it last. For all that, it turned out very well, being sound in terms of characterization and theme.  I liked the conflict between Conrad and Naddi, a pinch of which shows up in the example below; when I was blocking the book, they seemed a little too sympatico, if you take my meaning. No one gets along all the time, and the conflicts don’t necessarily go away with a temporary parting. Showing the results of previously discussed matters brought up to date in later chapters really smoothes the whole work.

I like that and, as a result, added the idea of “impact events” to my blocking form. It lists major things that happened in the relevant chapters before, so that those events can be incorporated into the current chapter, even if only by reference. Sews it all together. A book instead of a bunch of chapters.

Tale of the Tape

It took me a week to get all this wrestled out. I started out at 2058 words and a really good Flesch score, and I ended with over 600 more words and the score didn’t vary by more than a few points. I needed to cover some of those impact events discussed above and put in more characterization work than I had planned. It flows nicely all the same.  Most of the nuts and bolts editing took place while the White Sox blew a first-inning 5-0 lead. Not really a baseball fan.

A Random 250 (or so) Words

09 250wd img

(Yeah, I changed it to 250 words. A hundred words just sounded like gibberish. This gives a sense of what the chapter is about.)

Let me know how this works for you. Do you like these updates?

Thanks for reading!

MGC Chapter 8: First Edit complete

I finished the first edit on this chapter, titled “The New Job”. I expected this to be much more work than it turned out to be. I know it’s working when I like to do it and I trust the decisions that I’ve made. I’m pleased with what came out.

I made very few changes to the original material, just cleaned it up a little, and added a lot as far as descriptions, which didn’t really wreck my readability stats. I also added a few useful things to the Edit1 checklist (just notes and reminders, really). Listened to classical music radio/orchestral CDs.

Tale of the Tape

I started the revision at 330p today, with a few hours out for dinner, some family stuff and walking the dog.  The Rough weighed in at a very spare 1074 words and a pretty decent Flesch rating. Post edit, it came out to be 1418 words and the Flesch rating actually improved a coupled of points. Backwards from what we’ve all been told, but I’m told it works, so who am I to question?

A Random 100 (or so) Words


Of course, it’s a little vague, but it’s also only a hundred words. Drop me a line and let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading!

PS: I know it has been a great while since I sent out the last update. I’ve started and restarted this thing so many times it’s become a habit. So, I’m starting up again and starting small.

Mmm, Better: Editing 1st Five Chapters of MGC Done

The first edit of those chapters is done, and I’m very pleased. This is actually two landmarks in one and both of them went swimmingly.

The first was the actual editing itself. Though I didn’t clip much length off of any of it, what I changed those words to mattered. It’s really gratifying to see this world that I’ve been creating off and on for three years now come to fruition. I was concerned that there would be wholesale mistakes and global changes to be made. I did change a lot (A LOT), but the path or the thread of the story stayed the same. I just changed the words that described that path.

And the second landmark was the checklist I came up with.  That was…AWESOME. Usually when I edit, I find myself just skipping over passages because I’m bored. With a checklist, I can concentrate on a single element (such as repeating the same word in a paragraph…sheesh, someone stop me from writing “stopped”) and I can work on just that element in addition to the other elements I might find. I end up reviewing the work many more times and find much more than I have in the past. I did change a few things on the fly (for instance, I do Word’s spelling and grammar check twice, once when I start and once after I finish. It’s very gratifying to see those numbers improve) but those were just icing on the cake.

And here’s the biggest surprise of all:  I liked doing it. I had a real sense that I was improving my work rather than just flailing at it trying to maybe make it better. Yay!

So, how’s your editing process? Need a little pick-me-up?

Thanks for reading!