02 Sep

Fast Writing vs. Work >> Starborn Nears!

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For those patiently awaiting Starborn, book 6 of Stealing the Sun, I’m relieved to say the wait is nearly over.

I’ve gotten feedback from my beta readers (very positive, yay!), and am in the last stages of getting the manuscript ready for copy editing. I’ll wait a bit before giving a solid publication date, but it’s going to be pretty soon. Yes, I’m behind schedule, and that’s bad. I apologize to everyone who’s been waiting.

If you’re not a writer, or not interested in writer-neep, you can stop here. You’ve already read all the news that’s fit to print. But if you’re a writer interested in sparring a few rounds on what “fast” writing means, or if you’re just interested in a small peek under the hood, feel free to go along for the full ride…

My problem started because when I first “finished” Starborn (technically on schedule), I didn’t like it. Really. I just didn’t. And, no, that’s not some weird-humble “a writer is the worst judge of his own writing thing.” As I’ve said before, I write stories that matter to me and, while I may not be able to say if something I’ve done is award quality or not, I know when I’m proud of something. I know when it’s “good enough for me.”

The Starborn manuscript was about 43K words, which was about as I expected it would be. These are shortish novels (usually 50-55K words), so the length was “fine.” But the story just sat there on the page. It was wrong, and I knew it.

So I had a choice. I could push on, hit my schedule, and hope that the story was at least “good enough,” or I could go back and figure out what was wrong.

Given this post’s opening, you know what I decided to do.

To keep this brief, the biggest problem was that I was telling two stories. So step one was to come to grips with the fact that the series had a 7th book. This was harder to accept than it should have been because, to be honest, I was set on six. Once I committed to seven, I immediately felt better.

Of course, this created a totally new problem: I didn’t really know what this “new” sixth book was about.

If you’re around writers for long, the topic of writing speed will come up. I tend to be a proponent of “fast” writing—which, as I’ll show here, really simplifies down to “spend a lot of time creating words and eventually you get a lot coming out of the pipeline.”

This is certainly true for me most of the time, and, in general you can see it in the rate that I manage to create my various series in (and still get mostly solid reviews—I mean, you can’t please 100% of the people 100% of the time, but my numbers are in general pretty good). Of course, there are times where problems arise, and this past spring/summer, for me, was one of those times.

Also among writers there’s this feeling that everyone else just sits down and starts to type, and then 4,000 words or 6,000 words later a story is done, or 80,000 words later a novel pops out fresh and clean and ready for TOR to give you a big check and an advance for two more just like it. Oh, sure, we know in our brains this isn’t true, but especially when the art isn’t going particularly well for us, our hearts see the high-quality output of some people and it tears us up inside.

But I’m here today to whisper to you writers who confuse “fast writing” with “super talent.”

Change that worldview. For the vast majority of us, fast writing is really just diligence (here is where I note that I’m not a blazer in the words/hour category, say 500-1,000 on average). “Fast writing” means only this: “Go to work every day.”

Today’s example: barring oddities, Starborn will weigh in at about 66K words, about 20K more than I originally thought it would, and about 35K more than the story-span originally took in its first draft. But here’s another truth: I came to work every day for the last three or four months, and I wrote literally hundreds of thousands of words that never made the page.

Yes, terribly inefficient.

And it’s an unusual thing for me. I mean, I throw away a lot of words but not usually (let’s say) 300K in “trash” for a 66K story.

This is probably the most inefficient I’ve ever been, and I’ll be honest: this churn messed with my brain at times. There were moments where I just said “screw it,” I’m done! Only to go back to the keyboard and throw down more crappy words.

For weeks Lisa and I had this dialog every day:

Ron: I’ll be done tomorrow.
Lisa: Really?
Ron: [Hesitating] Yeah, I think so.
Lisa: [The Next Day] So, is it tomorrow?
Ron: [Scowling] No.

It was funny for a little while, but after a bit it just became unnerving for us both, so I stopped projecting and Lisa stopped asking. Yes, she’s that good.

To put this in context, at my usual rate I would probably have created at least a novel and a half with that 300K words, and maybe more. There are some folks who would look at me and get upset–that’s two books you could be pushing now! they would say. And, that’s true. But my point here is that, finished product or not, by coming to work every day, I created probably three novels worth of words. It just so happened that this time those words only resulted in one finished product.

Of course, I should note that I finished three short stories and a novelette that I owed people during this period, too. That’s all good, too. I’m proud of them all.

Looking back on it, my self-diagnosis is that the real issue was that I thought I knew what the story meant to me. I mean, I had known what I was trying to do with the whole thing, so I must have understood the partial, right?

Yes, I’m that stupid.

The result is that I spent a solid two months really just churning on things until, yes, things finally came together for what the book was.

And yes, now that the book is finished I think it’s good. But that’s for everyone else to say. All I can really report is that I’m totally proud of this book now. I’ll be able to look people in the eye when they say they bought it, and in the delightful case where they say they liked it, I’ll know the time was worth it.

So, yeah. Write a lot, and be sure to stop when you’re done. But know that it’s okay to take a breath and go back in. If you come to work every day, you’ll be fine.

20 Jun

Last Day to Pick Up Moonscapes!

I posted a bit on Bundles as a whole a few moments ago, but for those who just want to read I didn’t want this to get lost in the high grass of indie-publishing neep. So I’m pullin gthis out on its own little rock!

Only a day and a half left!

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Get the Moonscapes Bundle Before June 22 Or It’s Too Late!

The StoryBundle model works on high-profile packages that are available for only a short time. It also appeals to socially conscious folks because it lets readers choose to support great charities. Moonscapes, for example:

  • Includes Kevin Anderson, Kristine Kathryn Rucsh, Matt Buchman, and Dean Wesley Smith, all writers with a high public profile. It also has me, Maggie Jaimison, Lisa Silverthorne, Annie Reed, and Blaze Ward, all writers who have indie published audiences, and some like me with a foot in the traditional short story markets.
    Gives readers the ability to control their costs by selecting how much they are willing to pay for the bundle.
  • Opens a gate to fund AbleGamers.org, a fantastic charity that is helping disabled gamers be able to enjoy this highly important social activity with their families and friends.
  • And is only available for two more days—meaning if you want to pick up these 10 great books, you can’t wait much longer.

It’s a fantastic bundle, and as you can probably imagine given the quality of the bundle itself, has been doing quite well.

Did I mention you have only two more days to get it? [grin]


02 Jun

Algis Budrys, Starflight, and Moonscapes

Rogue_Moon_1960I was amused this morning in that interesting nostalgic way you can get sometimes, when I read Dean Wesley Smith’s blog post that attributed his interest in doing the Moonscapes bundle to his reading of Algis Budrys’ Rogue Moon. I definitely get it. I, too, read Rogue Moon. For its day it was amazing, and even as a throwback today it’s got that thing that great books have.

But that’s not why I was amused.

I was amused because thinking about Algis made my mind snap back to a morning over breakfast when Algis handed me back a manuscripts and said “Pretty good,” in that way of little words that he could get. We were at the Writers of the Future workshop. The manuscript he handed me was a short story titled “Stealing the Sun,” which I wrote there at the workshop as my 24-hour story and which eventually was published in Analog before going on to become the opening to Starflight. He had a comment or three that made the work better.

You’ll note that Starflight is proudly part of the Moonscapes bundle.

So, yes, in many ways it is a small world.

But, of course, this morning I’m also thinking about how big it is.


GET THE MOONSCAPES StoryBundle HERE!
(and support AbleGamers, too)

Moonscapes-All-Covers

Ten great books
Pay what you want
DRM Free
Support AbleGamers
Automatic delivery

What could possibly be better?

01 Jun

Moonscapes Bundle Launches!

Here’s something incredibly cool: ten amazing SF books by ten of my favorite writers and people (well, nine of them, plus my own Starflight!). On top of that, an opportunity to support AbleGamers, a fantastic group that’s working to support disabled folks who want to game.

Moonscapes-All-Covers

 

GET THE BUNDLE HERE!!!

 

The books are great, of course.

As you might guess by the bundle’s theme, you’re going to find tons of spacey goodness in here. Even better for you, as with any StoryBundle offering, within some very generous constraints you get to choose how much you pay!

The main package includes:

  • Recovery Man is from USA Today bestselling author Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s highly popular Retrieval Artist series. The only downside here is that if you read one, you’ll be hit by an overwhelming desire to get the rest.
  • If you read Annie Reed’s In Dreams, my guess is that you’re going to have a new favorite author. She’s awesome.
  • Blaze Ward’s Auberon introduces you to a master of space opera. Don’t believe the 27 outstanding Amazon reviews? 400+ on Goodreads ought to do the trick.
  • Odds are, you know M.L. Buchman as a bestselling military romance writer. Here’s proof he can do died in the wool SF, too.
  • If you haven’t read my own Starflight, here’s your chance. Obviously, I love it. I hope you do, too!
  • But, there’s more! If you unlock the bonus you get five more amazing books:

  • Like most of Kevin J. Anderson’s work, Climbing Olympus is a great adventure. He’s a New York Times bestseller for a reason, afterall.
  • Maggie Jaimeson doesn’t fool around with life’s little questions. Her Eternity takes look at what immortality might look like. Very cruchy SF, indeed.
  • Lisa Silverthorne is just flat-out one of my favorite writers of all time. Rediscovery might just show you why.
  • If you pick up Star Mist, you’ll begin to understand why Dean Wesley Smith has some 23 million copies of his books out there.
  • Then there’s the Moonscapes volume of Fiction Rver that started this whole thing. An anthology of moon-based short stories that might just introduce you to a bunch of new writers you’ll want to track down (and a few I’m sure you already know!).
  • So, really … flat-out, this is a totally kick-ass bundle of books that will keep you reading through a good chunk of the summer if you’ll let it!


    Pay what you want
    DRM Free
    Support AbleGamers
    Automatic delivery

    What could possibly be better?

     

    GET THE BUNDLE HERE!!!

     

    A Special Note About AbleGamers:

    This is a fantastic charity that (as their website says) “…give(s) people with disabilities custom gaming setups including modified controllers and special assistive technology, like devices that let you play with your eyes, so they can have fun with their friends and family. We’re using the power of video games to bring people together, improving quality of life with recreation and rehabilitation.”

    Please do take a run through their site. It’s an organization with an important mission. #SoEveryoneCanGame

    10 Apr

    Stealing the Sun, Book 5!

    I’m terribly pleased to note that Starbound, the fifth book of the Stealing the Sun series, is now available at online retailers near you. This is a story near to my heart right now because, quite honestly, it wasn’t going to exist at all until the thing rose its hand up and pretty much demanded to come to life on its own. I love it when that happens, of course, though it would be easier to deal with if it didn’t wait to do it until I was smack-dab in the middle of working on a release cycle.

    The life of a skiffy writer on a deadline is a wondrous thing, right? I mean, cry me a river.

    Regardless, I love this book–which is technically a long novella (hence the reduced price from the rest of the series). I hope you love it, too.

    Here are the details, including a handy button you can use to grab it.


    Interested in starting with Book 1?



    An arms race across the galaxy

    Reeling from war, the United Government’s Interstellar Command wants control. In constant fear of discovery, Universe Three wants revenge.

    Amid a changing starscape of intrigue Torrance Black-hero turned science ambassador-gets one more chance to find intelligent life outside the Solar System: convince the most prominent scientists alive to spend one of their precious Star Drive missions on a trip to Alpha Centauri A.

    Win and he saves an alien species. Lose and his career is done. How far is Torrance willing to go?

    How far will he have to go?

    red-buy-now

    25 Mar

    STARBOUND Cover Reveal (and preorder info!)

    Life is moving quickly along, and for me that meas we’re getting ready for the publication of Starbound, Book 5 of the Stealing the Sun series.  It also means that today I get to give you two pieces of news–first, that the book is now available for pre-order, and second that the cover is pretty danged cool if I do say so myself.

    Don’t believe me? Check it out.

    preorder-circle


    STS-Bk5-STARBOUND-600-400

    14 Mar

    Starclash is published!

    It’s always fun to see a project move along, isn’t it? Yes, that means it’s that time again: publication week!

    STS-Bk4-STARCLASH-300-200

    I’m so excited to be able to announce that Starclash, book 4 of my SF series Stealing the Sun is now available! You can pick up a copy at pretty much any of your fave online book outlets by doing the clicky thing on this button:
    red-buy-now

    The wonders of modern technology never cease, am I right?

    This volume begins to tie a few things together for our several of our main characters. Of course, in the process, things changed and I broke the volume into two pieces…meaning there will be a “new” book 5 and that my original plans for a five-book series has morphed itself into five books and a hefty novella (Starbound, which should be published at reduced price in April).

    If you haven’t started this series, you can check out Starflight, which of course is book 1!

    sts-bk1-starflight-ecover-600x400

    13 Jan

    STARFALL: Book 3 is Published!

    The calendar is whooshing along isn’t it? I’m so pleased to note…



    The third book of Stealing the Sun, a space based Science Fiction series from frequent Analog contributor and bestselling Amazon Dark Fantasy author Ron Collins.

    Available from Skyfox Publishing at:



    A streak of light across a clouded sky

    A distant planet. A harsh and desolate surface shrouded in layers of poisonous clouds. A sentient species formed by generations fighting both themselves and the planet they live on.

    A blinding light burns through the sky before crashing into the farthest reaches of the desert lands.

    Families want to own it. Priests want to turn it to their favor. But Jafred E’Lar, his clan’s representative to the Council, holds a terrible secret and another agenda altogether.

    “Ron Collins covers the spectrum with clear prose, compelling characters and settings, and a bright imagination.”

    Kevin J. Anderson
    New York Times bestselling author of ETERNITY’S MIND


    If you’re interested in the whole series, you can start with STARFLIGHT or even book 2, STARBURST. This is because I’ve configured the series to allow any of the first three books to act as “entry points.” If you like it, you will probably need to read all three before you get to what will eventually be book 4 (STARCLASH, due in March!).

    Here are some handy-dandy links and all that:

    Buy it here

    “Ron Collins is one of our best hard science fiction writers. A novel from him is a major event. Enjoy!”

    Robert J. Sawyer
    Hugo Award-Winning Author of Quantum Night

    Buy it here

    “Great characters I cared about, a kick-ass plot with surprising twists, great techie details, and a powerful story. Pick up Starburst. I guarantee you won’t set it down until you’ve read every last word.”

    Kristine Kathryn Rusch
    Hugo Award–winning author of the Diving Universe


    Praise for STARFLIGHT: (From Amazon Reviews)

    “This is truly GOOD stuff if you’re a fan of old-school science fiction; it’s like stumbling on some undiscovered Larry Niven, or something from Andre Norton, or Orson Scott Card, or even Asimov himself . it’s that good.”

    “Ron Collins takes complex scientific concepts and makes them accessible to everyone.”

    “If you’re looking for a great read with strong characters, Starflight should be on the top of your list.”

    “If you love science fiction, you NEED to read this book!”

    “I’ve been following Ron Collins’s writing for some time now, and it just keeps getting stronger and stronger.”


    15 Dec

    STARBURST is available!

    Yep…publication day #2 is here. Always an exciting day. Since this is already a long and scrolly post, I’ll leave my commentary brief today–except to note below that STARFLIGHT Book 1 is now available at 40% off list price (until Dec 20) at both Kobo and Amazon! But rest assured I’m quite pleased!



    STARBURST


    The second book of Stealing the Sun, a space based Science Fiction series from frequent Analog contributor and bestselling Amazon Dark Fantasy author Ron Collins.

    Available Now at:


    (Nook Link is still generating!)


    Faster-than-light travel changes everything

    Casmir Francis commands Universe Three agents hidden across the Solar System. Together they stay a step ahead of the United Government.

    The game changes when the UG achieves faster-than-light travel and the ability to control the galaxy. To remain free Casmir’s web of operatives must pull off the most audacious operation ever undertaken.

    Failure means Universe Three will be destroyed and Casmir will lose his family, his life, and the world of his dreams.

    Success could be worse.

    “Great characters I cared about, a kick-ass plot with surprising twists, great techie details, and a powerful story. Pick up Starburst. I guarantee you won’t set it down until you’ve read every last word.”

    Kristine Kathryn Rusch
    Hugo Award-winning author of the Diving Universe


    GET 40% OFF BOOK 1 (Until Dec 20)


    STARFLIGHT


    The first book of Stealing the Sun, a space based Science Fiction series from frequent Analog contributor and bestselling Amazon Dark Fantasy author Ron Collins.

    Available Now!


    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

    Everguard‘s mission: Establish a multidimensional gate inside Alpha Centauri A for Interstellar Command to fuel their new faster-than-light spaceships.

    Lieutenant Commander Torrance Black, career already on shaky grounds, finds himself facing questions.

    Did they just contact sentient life in the Centauri system?

    Will humankind sacrifice an entire alien species in their quest for the stars?

    “Ron Collins is one of our best hard science fiction writers. A novel from him is a major event. Enjoy!”

    Robert J. Sawyer
    Hugo Award-Winning Author of Quantum Night


    Praise for STARFLIGHT: (From Amazon Reviews)

    “This is truly GOOD stuff if you’re a fan of old-school science fiction; it’s like stumbling on some undiscovered Larry Niven, or something from Andre Norton, or Orson Scott Card, or even Asimov himself . it’s that good.”

    “Ron Collins takes complex scientific concepts and makes them accessible to everyone.”

    “If you’re looking for a great read with strong characters, Starflight should be on the top of your list.”

    “If you love science fiction, you NEED to read this book!”

    “I’ve been following Ron Collins’s writing for some time now, and it just keeps getting stronger and stronger.”


    30 Nov

    Publication day, election returns of a different sort

    idea-write-releaseIt strikes me that the day a book launches is a lot like an election day. When the stores open, you get this feeling of relief. All the pre-work is done. All the toil of the campaign—the effort of getting the product together–is finished. You’ve stuffed the production line. The book is on all the sites, and man does it look good. It looks brilliant.

    Yes, all the meat grindery stuff is done, and there’s that thrill of having created something fun and valuable and something that is truly yours—something no one else could have done, because even if they tried, they are not you. It would be different.

    So, for a few minutes you look at what you’ve done and you feel totally brilliant. Totally full of hope. In many ways, this is the best moment of all. The world is full of hope for this book. It’s destiny is on the horizon.

    That entire day is spent waiting for the turnout, which comes in fits and drabs. Numbers come in for a bit and you raise your hands up and think things are fantastic. Then there’s dry stage, and you think “is that all there is?” You worry that all the work you did in advance is out the window. Then the lines queue up again. Yes! The people are coming!

    This is when you realize that there just isn’t any way to really predict this kind of future—that all your early polling (beta reading) is completely useless for any kind of real projection. All your exit polls are suspect.

    The analogy fades on Day 2, though.

    Yes, you’re waiting for reviews (which is maybe a form of the networks calling the race, eh?), but mostly you realize that a book’s success or failure is a long haul, and pretty much no matter how successful the previous day might have been, you’re still no different from before—you still look at the numbers, and you still wonder what will happen to it tomorrow, and the following day, and the following day.

    Then you turn to your next manuscript and you realize that, no, the work isn’t done.

    Publication is, in the end, not an election.

    The work is never done.

    Nor is the fun.

    The next book has a destiny, too, after all. And it’s time to start making it happen.

    – – –

    Improve STARFLIGHT’s returns here!