I’ve decided to start a journal and description of my first science fiction novel, Casimir Bridge, the first of three books in my Anghazi series. I suppose one could say I’ve been working on this project for about ten years. One would be exaggerating a bit to do so. My first thoughts about the plot came to me at about that time and I envisioned my first scene. I played it over and over again in my mind, developing the back story as I did so. I envisioned new technologies and extrapolated on existing to help paint the backdrop. It wasn’t until about seven years ago that I put my first words down on paper… or screen, rather. I wrote the first nine chapters fairly quickly and sent them off to some friends and relatives for feedback. Having never written fiction for public consumption I didn’t know what to expect. Had I written some thousands of words of rubbish or did I have something? Should I just quit and concentrate on my “real job” or keep going and further flesh out the characters and plot. Luckily for me the feedback was generally positive and constructive. I should mention that during this time I had a day job which kept me quite busy. I also started a business which launched its first product in mid-2008; you can guess where that went. I had little time left for writing. Some nights my wife would come downstairs in our Florida home and ask, “what the f#$k are you doing?” I’d respond something like, “I got on a roll, I can’t stop now.” She’d shake her head and walk back upstairs. I’d wonder why, but then I’d catch a glimpse of the clock on our cable box and it would show a couple numbers preceded by a ‘2’ or ‘3’ – sorry honey.
So for the first few years my writing schedule could be described as sporadic at best. That all changed in the summer of 2010. That’s when I got my corporate dream job… in California. That’s when I started raking in my executive salary (with bonus). That’s when my writing all but ceased. To say it was a difficult move would be the most under- of understatements. My wife had her entire family and career in Florida, moving her away from all she’d ever known was both heartbreaking and arduous. I knew it would end up being the right thing for her both from a personal growth perspective and for her career; I just had to convince her of that. The next six months were trying, to say the least. We had to sell our house. You might have heard about this thing called the “housing crisis.” You might also have heard that the two hardest hit states were Nevada and Florida. We had lost more than a third of our home’s value and with a huge inventory on the market finding bigfoot was easier than a qualified buyer. Needless to say writing was not my first priority. Then I realized my “dream job” entailed the worst of corporate politics, stress-filled days and sleepless nights. Finding the motivation to write was even harder than finding the time.
In the summer of 2012 something interesting happened. My position at my “dream job” was eliminated. I’ve never been “eliminated” from anything before, much less a job, and my must-be-successful male ego took a bruising. But then some great things started to happen. Within the first three months of joblessness I had lost twenty of the twenty-five stress-induced pounds I had gained at my so-called dream job. I found a new perspective on life, and the corporate grind in particular. I found the motivation (and time) to finish my book.
“Finish” may be too strong of a word. I don’t think I’ll ever be truly finished. I have, however, reached some wonderful milestones. I will list them below and keep adding to them as the project nears completion:
3/1/2013: Completion of the Main Plot
I finally wrote the last chapter. I am by no means complete with the book and much additional writing remains, but the main framework is complete. I liken it getting your certificate of occupancy on your newly-built house. You could technically move in, but you haven’t finished the basement, chosen final colors or picked out the drapes.
3/3/2013: Name Selected
I’ve been struggling to find a name for quite some time. Finally it hit me. I chose White Knights while researching “White Knight Complex” also known as hero syndrome. It dawned on me that I have several “white knights” as characters in the book. One of the primary protagonists is a white knight and doesn’t even realize it. The big, bad guy antagonist thinks himself a white knight. Another protagonist aspires to be one. Even the space ship central to the plot is a white knight of sorts. The name fit so I picked it. Checkbox checked.
3/11/2013: Artist Selected
I am happy to report that I’ve engaged a cover artist. This might sound easy; it’s not. Many of the iconic covers I’ve seen over the years were designed by artists who are either no longer with us or have retired. I scoured the web trying to find an artist who both met my standards of quality and creativity, and created artwork matching my desired style. I finally came across Stephen Youll. He has created science fiction and fantasy art for Tor, Bantam, Penguin, Harper Collins and many others. I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with such a great talent. I know that if I go a traditional publishing route this may not get used, but it will give me visuals to assist along the way regardless.
3/13/2013: Developmental Editor Selected
A well known, award-winning science fiction (and other genres) editor agreed to work with me. He’s worked with the likes of Isaac Asimov, Stephen King, Walter Tevis and many others. He has acted as senior editor and editor-in-chief for publishers such as Ace Books, Random House, Bantam and more. Needless to say I am quite happy to be working with him.
3/30/2013: First Comps of Book Cover Art Received
I just got the first sketches from Stephen Youll for my book cover art. These are still very preliminary, but give a good feel of what the final will look like. Stephen is a real joy to work with. I love working with people who love what they do and are very good at it. Stephen is that and more.
4/15/2014: Final Cover Art – I Added in the Copy
Here’s the final – I’m pretty happy with it. Note: I’ve changed it to the final image to match name change, etc – see below.
5/20/2014: Feedback from the Editor!
So I got my feedback from the developmental editor. Based on it I’ve decided that either I’m a writing prodigy or the editor didn’t give me a good critique. I decided that the chances of me being a prodigy are pretty low and that I need a new editor.
6/5/2014: What’s in a Name?
A lot, it turns out. No one really likes the name White Knights. I must say I’m agreeing now. The new working title is ‘On the Side of Angels’ – we’ll see how this one goes over.
8/13/2014: The New Editor
I began my search for a new sci-fi editor then realized I don’t need a sci-fi editor. I know more about science fiction — I lived it for ten years — than most sci-fi editors ever will. I need an editor editor. I lucked into finding Victoria Mixon.
9/8/2014 – 10/20/2014: The New Editor Sends Feedback
Victoria is fun to work with. On the first day she sent forty-three (43!!!) short messages with little snippets and questions. What she likes, what she doesn’t, what could be improved. Her feedback and insight is amazing. She loves my technical detail, other things… maybe not so much. She has somewhat rigid “rules” to writing that I find somewhat restricting (I don’t later, read on). Such things as specific numbers of character archetypes, naming conventions, chapter organization and more. There is so much that needs changing, I think Victoria is having a hard time figuring out how to break it to me. What finally comes out is that I need a cover to cover rewrite. I’m sort of crushed.
11/9/2014: I Read a Book
I just finished reading a self-published science fiction novel by an author whose name I will keep secret. So remember all those rules Victoria told me about? Those that I found restricting? In this book I read, they were all broken. Ah-ha! Vindication, right? Not at all. The issues the rule breaking caused were so glaring to me now that I was educated on them, I almost put the book down. The premise was strong enough that I didn’t, but had I not found it so interesting I might have.
11/10/2014: The New Editor
I begin my rewrite.
1/15/2015: Act 1 Rewrite Complete
I’ve finished the rewrite of the first act of the book. Act, you say? Act, I say. One of the rules Victoria imparted on my was that a thriller must be split into three acts, each with its own build up, climax and faux resolution. She told me to pick any good, similar-themed movie and see if it has three acts. Star Wars – Act 1: Tatooine, the build up to the escape then the climax of the launch of the Falcon and chase by star destroyers followed by the faux resolution of the jump out. Act 2: the Death Star and escape. Act 3: the fight and real resolution of the destruction of the Death Star. Another rule was the inevitable show down between protagonist(s) and antagonist at the end. This I had a big problem with. My protagonists and antagonists were in different star systems. I have some thinking to do. I also gave the first act to a friend, Jack, to test read. He test read the first version. He liked this a lot more.
2/2/2015: Feedback from Victoria
I engaged Victoria again to go through an abbreviated edit of Act 1. She was very happy with the transformation and provided some great feedback.
3/3/2015: Another Rewrite – Sort Of
My test reader friend Jack asked me an interesting question: “Your secondary protagonist is a lot more interesting than your primary. What do you think about making her the primary?” Oh crap – he was right. Another rewrite of Act 1 – at least it is fairly minor in nature.
4/20/2015: Another Name Change
A lot of people will ask ‘wtf does that mean?’ It will become clearer, but the name of the book is now Artifice Bridge. I’ve also settled on names for the second and third: Desolation Bridge and Armageddon Bridge.
4/24/2015: Act 2 Edit
Act 2 goes off to Victoria, along with my bombshell of switching primary/secondary protagonists. She loved the idea. More great feedback from her. I’ve learned so much in working with her.
6/6/2015: Act 3 Edit
Similar to Act 2, Victoria has come back with more great feedback. I have a lot of finalizing of the entire manuscript.
9/7/2015: Copy and Line Edit
I’ve engaged Victoria to do the copy and line edit. More news on this to come.
10/2/2015: Copy and Line Edit Done
Victoria has completed her copy and line edit. I’ll now be going through the edits to make sure the story line holds true. It will be a busy weekend.
11/4/2015: Ready for Proofreading
With the help of my mother and cousin, I’ve gone through the copy and line-edited manuscript with a fine toothed comb. It is now ready for proofreading. I’ve hired a proofreader who starts on 11/23.
11/8/2015: Another Name Change
After receiving a lot of negative feedback on the name Artifice Bridge, I’ve decided to change the name to Casimir Bridge.
11/23/2015: Final Proofread
The manuscript is off for a final proofread. I should have it back in the second week of December.
1/13/2016: The Real Final Proofread
A proofreader will never catch all the errors in a manuscript. There were a few too many left for my taste, so I engaged a second proofreader. This is not to say that the first proofreader was sloppy – far from it, in fact. Most books go through multiple proofreading exercises and I simply felt I needed one more.
1/24/2016: Off to the Formatter
I received my second proof last week and incorporated all the comments (and a few additional). I was very happy with the results. I just sent the full manuscript off to get formatted. I hope to publish by mid February.
Final proofs for the print version are on the way.
Everything is set, and the books are up on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.