Thursday, January 2, 2014

Kevin James Breaux Writing - 2013 Year

How do I sum up 2013?
Well, I guess I have to break it into 2 parts: Writing Life and Gaming Life.
Writing life first. 

Day off. Hop Farm. Nuff said.

It was a strange year for me as an author. Since 2009, when I decided to "go pro", I have done certain things each year. I guess you could call it my list of goals: write and sell several short stories, enter short stories in competitions (like the Bram Stoker Awards), write one or two books, and edit, edit, edit.
This year, while having the most financially successful year, I did not follow my normal pattern of goals. This year, well, from last September(2012) to this September(2013) I did only one thing really… I grew as an author.

I have always had good luck reaching out to agents, and in return them asking for partials and fulls. BUT in the last year or so, I have had even better luck. I have had several agents offer me advice and tutor me. Basically, I have submitted work to agents who were willing to give me some of their limited time to help advance my career. Three agents in particular offered me insight to what I was "doing wrong" in my novels. Oddly enough, my issues were not something readers would always pick up on. So while I was getting good reviews from readers... the industry professionals: agents and publishers, were spotting mistakes and rejecting my work. I was being held back by mistakes I was not even aware of until about 12-15 months ago.
It was like having cold water thrown into my face while I was sleeping—dreaming of good times. I was like… OH SHIT! NO! I NEED TO FIX EVERYTHING!!! And I did. Twice. Actually… Three times.

One agent in particular has really invested a lot of time with me this last year. She has worked to help improve me as an author and I honestly feel like a totally different person now. I really feel like I have learned a ton this year. And learning and growing is extremely important to me.
So in past years, where I was focused on writing and getting things published and out there, this year I worked to polish my two unpublished novels. I edited both novels twice. Start to finish. And then actually just completed a third full edit on the one. That third pass consisted of three waves. Soften dialogue and characters, add to plot and description, and clean up some pesky typos!
I invested an entire year to fixing my two unpublished novels and while I do feel bad that I did not get to write a lot of short stories, I feel I have grown tenfold as an author. (lucky for me the one anthology editor ho asked me to write for his new book, pushed back the deadline too.)

If you follow this blog, or my Facebook, you know me. You know I am capable of writing two or three books a year. I am able to reach very high word counts… So even with all the intensive editing, all the learning, reading and re-reading… I did complete one book (and edited it three times). :)

The book I wrote this year was a Middle Grade Boys Horror. I was challenged to write it by my original mentor, Jonathan Maberry. He knows that YA and MG are not my style, but he wanted me to challenge myself, and I always enjoy a good writing challenge. So I did it. I wrote about 40,000 words, cutting it down to 30,000 during the first edit.  Now it sits around 35,000 words.

I spent many hours researching and working with this novel to make it right. And a few weeks ago I finished it and sent it to my early test readers. So far, I have heard back from three of my most trusted reviewers and they all loved it. All three said they could not put it down once they started reading it.

Good sign! I can't wait to hear what the other two readers say. Then, I will do another edit and send it off to some agents who I know would love it read it. One agent has already shown interest and is waiting. :)
So, while I do not feel as accomplished as I normally do at the end of the year… I feel… I feel better? More hopeful? I feel like I am truly ready for the big leagues.

It is kind of difficult to describe. You see, I am a perfectionist. One who during art school, threw out at least 80% of their work. I would draw for hours, and then crumple up the paper and throw it to the floor. It was tough to break out of that pattern when I shifted from artist to author, but I found the transition easier because writing was clearly my true passion.
However, I am still hard on myself. I want the best. I enjoy hard work, and take great pleasure in a day well spent. I also believe that hard work MUST pay off. Otherwise dreams would die. Can you imagine climbing Mt. Everest only to find out there is no top? It just keeps going and going….

2014 is going to be a big year. I have manuscripts in the hands of agents. I have short stories to write for anthologies. I am also getting the Soul Born novels back from the publisher to re-work and re-publish. I will be writing several books this year, and I hope... more than anything... that I will finally be teaming up professionally with an agent. The time is now.

Happy New Year! Happy 2014!!!


Kevin James Breaux

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