I'm probably a surprised by this news than anyone because just five days ago, I wrote a post saying I hoped to have the first draft finished by the end of August, and here we are a day before the end of July, and I've already reached my goal!
It all started yesterday morning when I stumbled into my office at 6:11 a.m. (I usually write for 1-1.5 hours before breakfast) trying to solve a problem I'd left for myself on Saturday. Suddenly, inspiration struck, and I was off. Incidentally, I love it when my characters surprise me, because that means it's almost guaranteed my readers will be surprised, seeing as I couldn't possibly have subconsciously steered the story in a certain direction, dropping hints along the way. Unless my subconscious mind was already doing that for me . . .
At any rate, after that flash of inspiration, I started writing, thinking I would knock off a chapter or two. But, as with the final few chapters of The Water War, I just kept going--and going--until my typical quitting time of 4:30 p.m. By that time I had written just over 10,000 words, effectively bringing my story to a conclusion. I still need to add a bit more to the denouement to tie up a few loose ends, but for all intents and purposes, the first draft is complete. A huge load off my mind. Now the fun part begins--editing! I'd say I plan to have that process complete by the end of August, but I know I'll have it done sooner than that. Then it's off to my merciless beta readers--my wife (Heidi) and my oldest daughter (Gretchen). Once I get their feedback, I'll make a few final tweaks, and then we should be good to go. Meanwhile, Kierston is doing preliminary sketches for the cover. It all goes well, we are looking at a September release date.
I will say one thing: although I always knew roughly how the story would end, this book takes a much more serious turn toward the end than the previous three books in the series, with something happening that will change Milligan Creek forever. In this way, it mirrors some of the real-life events that happened while I was growing up in Foam Lake that inspired the story. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll just leave it at that. The next time you hear from me, it should be to show you a preliminary cover sketch or maybe even a brief excerpt. Stay tuned!
As a writer, sometimes you fall in love with a line, to the point where you'll sacrifice anything and everything to keep it, for better or worse--usually for worse. That was the case with issue 3 of Meth the Immortal. I had a great line that I didn't want to lose, but there was one problem: It required a panel that showed some topless women on a nude beach. I sell a lot of books in schools, so I knew it was a bit of a stretch, but I felt the context of the joke would actually get me under the wire, because it plays on different cultural sensibilities regarding female breasts and modesty in general. However, after showing it to my wife and daughter, they nixed it immediately. Thankfully, I was able to get Kierston to draw a PG version. I originally uploaded the NSFW version, so a handful of them got out into the wild, which means they may become collector's items one day. For the record, below is the NSFW version, followed by the PG version, which required a slight tweak to the dialogue as well as the image.
Once again, I let nearly a month lapse on The Great Grain Elevator. There I was with a great head of steam, hoping to finish the first draft in June, but suddenly I was engulfed by a sea of other work, including finishing up my new documentary, releasing the latest issue of Meth the Immortal (plus a compendium of all three issues), and various other side projects that I do to keep the lights on. At any rate, I started up again yesterday, and the manuscript now stands at just over 28,000 words. Typically, these books run to about 45,000 words, so I'm getting close, and now my goal is to have a finished draft by the end of August. We'll see. The good news is, I just went through all that I've written so far and did an edit, and I'm still super excited about the book. I'm also about to get Kierston started on the cover, which always offers a good incentive to keep slogging. On that note, back to my draft.
Just to give you an idea of what I'm up to on issue 3 of Meth the Immortal, here's a peek at p. 19 before lettering.
Now here's what it looks like after lettering is complete. Note that in panel 3, I also fixed an inconsistency in the moon phase with a well-placed dialogue balloon. It's fun to see the story come to life before my eyes like this.
Actually, it's more than begun. I'm about halfway through the third issue. It's a painstaking process, which involves constantly resizing and reshaping voice bubbles and captions, cutting dialogue that doesn't fit, choosing the correct font for various sound effects, sizing them and placing them on the page, and so on. It's a lot of work, but it's so much fun to see the story finally come together page by page. I'm on p. 17 of this whopping 32-page issue, so I have a ways to go, and right now I only have time to chip away at a couple of pages a day, but I will put in extra time on the weekend and (hopefully) get this off for a proof before the end of next week. It's been a long time coming, so I can't wait to finally get this issue out into the world.
Now all that's left is the lettering, which I should have complete by early next week. At long last, the immortal pig's adventures continue. Stay tuned for the release date!
Not only does this issue include 30 pages of story, as opposed to 24, I was inspired by some old comic book covers by Carmine Infantino to make the title part of the cover image. I just saw a peek at Kierston's progress on this, and I can't wait to share the finished cover. In the meantime, here is one of Infantino's covers to give you a sense of what I mean.
My schedule in June has finally let up a bit, allowing me plenty of time to get cracking on book four in the Milligan Creek Series, The Great Grain Elevator Incident. I just cracked 20,000 words, which means I'm almost halfway to the finish line (novels in this series are running about 45,000 words). As in previous books, my characters keep laying waste to my outline, insisting on doing all sorts of things that I hadn't planned for. Thankfully, they're all smarter than me, so I just follow them around transcribing their antics. If all goes according to plan, I just might finish the first draft by the end of this month, which puts me on schedule to release at the end of August or early September. In the meantime, here's part one of a documentary on "The Disappearing Grain Elevator" to help whet your appetite.
I just got another batch of pages back from my artist today. I'm hoping to release by the end of June. It's been a LONG time coming, but it'll be worth the wait. In the meantime, here's another sneak peek of a panel from p. 15.
Brief thoughts and updates on writing, publishing, and life