Multiple Projects, E-Readers, and Struggles: The Emphera of a Winter’s Day


I have a bunch of ideas for things to write about today, and not one of them is substantive enough to sustain an entire post.  And so it’s time for me to do one of my miscellanea posts.  A paragraph or two about several things.  Feel free to comment or ask about any one of them.

Are you working on a book right now?  People here in my little town ask me this all the time.  They know that I write for a living.  They know that I write full-time.  But they don’t really understand what this means.  My standard answer now is “Yes, I’m pretty much ALWAYS working on a book.”  But even that isn’t accurate, because the truth is I’m always working on several books.  For the past couple of months I’ve been writing the fourth Thieftaker book, Dead Man’s Reach.  I hope to finish my first draft of the book by the end of this month.  It’s not due until April 1, but I need to get it done because I have other deadlines looming.  Still, I had to take last week off from Dead Man’s Reach so that I could go over the copy edits of Thieftaker 3, A Plunder of Souls, which will come out in July.  In another month or so, I’ll be writing the second book in the Weremyste Cycle, the three book series that I just sold to Baen; it’s due on July 1.  But I’ll need to take time away from that book to proof read the galleys for A Plunder of Souls, and also to proofread the paperback galleys for the second Thieftaker book, Thieves’ Quarry, which comes out in paperback in June.  During this time, I will also have to respond to editorial notes on the first Weremyste book, which will be released in January 2015.  And come the summer, when I’ve finished writing Weremyste two, I’ll start writing Weremyste three, which is due January 1, 2015.

For those of you keeping score at home, that means that right now, technically, I have two books that I’m working on actively (Thieftakers 3 and 4) two more on which I will have some production work to do before long (Thieftaker 2 and Weremyste 1), and two others that I will be writing in the next eight months or so (Weremyste 2 and 3).  I also have another novel that is finished and that I hope to shop around to publishers this year, as well as three more in that series that I will have to outline in rough form for any proposal that Lucienne and I submit to publishers.  And I have an idea for a new series that I’ve been kicking around.  Those books will probably have to wait for 2015, though.

So, yeah, I’m working on a book right now.

In the market for an e-reader.  I have resisted this for a long time.  I much prefer to read paper books.  But I also wind up reading books in manuscript form for friends, either to give feedback as a beta reader, or to give a cover blurb.  Often, it’s hard to get paper copies of these books.  Books in manuscript form are bulky; and publishers can’s always afford to send bound advanced reader copies of a book to every person from whom they have requested blurbs.  

Enter the e-reader.  Many tablets and e-readers support not only standard e-book formats, but also .pdf and .rtf.  This means that I could read manuscripts on a tablet at the gym or while on the road (not literally when I’m driving, but while traveling . . .), which would be incredibly convenient.  And so, for the first time, I’m seriously considering this.  I’m looking at the iPad mini, because all my other electronic devices are Apple based.  But I’m also looking at Kobo’s e-Readers and tablets.  Kobo is kind of cool because they are not wedded to any retailer — not Amazon, not Barnes & Noble, not iTunes.  I like that.  And Kobo has a program in place that allows customers to link their online purchases to any bookstore, including independents, so that the store gets credit for purchases.  I like that, too.  

So, anyone here have an iPad mini?  Anyone here have a Kobo?  Anyone care to make a pitch for some other brand?  Kindle?  Nook?  Sony?  I’m open to suggestions and would love to hear about your experiences.

What Worked and What Didn’t?  With 2013 winding down, I find myself looking back on the professional experiences I’ve had, trying to make sense of what I’ve accomplished and what I found disappointing.  I’m referring to the work, right now.  Yes, I had a great year, including a wonderful weekend at ConCarolinas; a fantastic week in Calgary at When Words Collide, where I led a writing workshop and was guest of honor at the convention; and a frenetic but extremely fun weekend at DragonCon, where I was on a ton of panels, and got to sell books in a book with, among others, Faith, John, and Lucienne.  I also sold two more Thieftaker books to Tor and three books to Baen.  It’s been a good year.

But in terms of the actual writing, I also had some really good things happen.  And I struggled some as well.  I wrote two Thieftaker books this year — volumes three and four — and I wrestled mightily with both books.  I wound up liking A Plunder of Souls very much, and I’m sure that I’ll feel that way about Dead Man’s Reach eventually.  As John recently pointed out in a terrific post, sometimes, for a while at least, we hate out books, and that’s okay.

Thing is, I’m not sure why these books were so difficult to write.  I outlined both, as I always, do, and my outlines for both proved far more durable than my usual outlines.  What I mean is, I didn’t need to revise my outlines one third or one half of the way through each book — the outlines were more or less accurate throughout the writing process.  On the other hand, both books were ambitious.  Each, in its own way, was unlike any book I’d written before.

Whatever the cause, I find myself second-guessing my process a bit right now.  Did I outline too much, and thus rob my plotting of the freshness and spontaneity on which I depend for creative energy?  Or were my struggles merely the natural outcome of pushing myself as an artist — the price of ambition, as it were?  I honestly don’t know the answer.  But I do know that I’ll be starting a new book in January.  I still plan to outline; I plan to push myself again.  So I suppose that means I’ll probably struggle with this next one, too.  

And I’m all right with that.  This isn’t supposed to be easy.

So there it is:  The ephemera of my thinking today.  Care to comment on any or all?  What are you pondering as 2013 winds down?

David B. Coe

19 comments to Multiple Projects, E-Readers, and Struggles: The Emphera of a Winter’s Day

  • I’ve had a Kindle for several years now, and I love it. It’s never going to replace paper books in my heart, but it’s perfect for travelling. I take it to the beach with me – it’s not backlit, so it’s as easy to read in the sun as a regular book would be. It’s not the new tablet version, so I can’t surf the ‘net, but it’s simple enough to load documents from the ‘net to read later.

  • My wife loves her Kindle but I prefer my Nexus 7. The versatility it offers is unmatched by a proprietary e-reader. You can download the apps for all the major e-readers as well as use it for social media, music, movies, games, and a thousand other things to distract yourself from actual writing, which of course you can do too.

  • If you have other Apple devices, I’d lean toward the iPad mini. My iPad is a few years old and definitely is not “mini” but I love the way everything automatically syncs between phone and tablet, and I’m sure if I had Macs they would sync with the computer as well. You can download various reading apps so you aren’t tied to any one retailer. On my iPad I have Kindle, Nook, and the Sony e-reader. And I do love that I can read pdfs on it.

    Also, congratulations on your good year, and good luck with 2015–sounds like you’ll be busy again (in a good way).

  • Congratulations on a truly productive year, and best of luck for the next two. I’m amazed and awed at your productivity!
    I love my kindle, and as it comes with a kindle address, I can have .pdf documents emailed directly to my device or kindle cloud storage area, or I can have the .pdf emailed to my home computer and transfer it over. I also love my 10.1″ android tablet, on which I downloaded the kindle app, and a few other readers, can access my kindle account for direct .pdfs, and, like the Kindle, I can transfer .pdfs from my computer. In addition, my tablet has an msoffice app (for $10 – paid for once an also usable on the kindle but on screen typing on a 7″ screen is painful) that gives me word, excel, and powerpoint so I can take notes or write on the road. The best thing about the tablet, though, is that I can copy all of my writing onto a flashdrive, plug it into the tablet and write, then transfer that writing back to the computer without having to transcribe it all over. In addition, the tablet has a 16G sim and the computer has a sim reader – so there’s another way to transfer data. The tablet also gives you access to all the distractions of a real computer, a Bluetooth keyboard, etc. Since your home office is mostly apple, tho, I’d check on android compatibility before investing.

  • Thanks, Misty. I have to admit to being a bit reluctant to buy a Kindle, simply because I don’t wish to aid Amazon in its quest for world domination . . .

    Kevin, thanks for the input. What kind of OS does the Nexus use? Is it a Windows machine? Google? Android?

    SiSi, thank you. I have to admit that I am leaning toward the mini right now, for the reasons you cite. But it happens to be the priciest of the options I’m considering, which is whats stopping me. Thanks for the good wishes. I’m hoping that 2014 AND 2015 will be good years. 😉

    Lyn, thank you. And thanks as well for the tablet advice. So many options. It’s a new world. A decade ago these things were still the stuff of Star Trek . . .

  • David, I gave into Amazon. The Hubby bought me a Kindle fire (and Prime membership) and I can download shows I missed and movies and stuff. And I can buy books from Amazon anywhere I can get wifi. Yes. I know I am wearing the mark of the Beast. (funny funny me. Jane Yellowrock/Beast. haha) Anyway, I gave in. And I do like my Kindle Fire. I bought mom a Kindle paperwhite and she can read it when her eyes are tired because she can make the print any size and the screen is easy on her glaucoma. And I can take care of buying her the books she wants. I know I am justifying my bondage to the Beast. But there you have it.

    And DANG! You are busy! I am impressed. And happy for you. 🙂

  • The Nexus 7 is made by Google/Asus so it runs Android. I have the first gen and love it but my brother recently purchased the second gen so I look forward to getting to check it out in the near future.

  • My Kindle has made me happy. And the price is right. Since all of them are similar I like the one that is affordable. I do share your sentiments about Amazon, but on my budget I couldn’t justify much else.

  • David, I get that. My tablet is an Asus because we wanted to steer clear of Apple and it’s proprietary scheme. (Yes, I have an iPod, but that’s as far as I want to go in the Apple army.) 🙂

  • I have to vote kindle too. I love my paperwhite. The kindle is the perfect size. I can’t read on my iPad. It is too heavy. The thing about amazon, and the reason they dominate, is the variety offered. You can get EVERYTHING on it. Once you get an ereader will won’t know how you got buy without one. There is nothing better than reading a book and then with one click get the next in the series! Well, until the bill comes

  • Hearing a lot of positive things about the Kindle . . .

    Faith, thanks. Busy is good right? Yes, I can see where the Kindle would be the perfect solution, particularly for your Mom. Still thinking . . .

    Kevin, that’s the problem with these things. No matter what I get, it will be obsolete next week. I hate that.

    Deep, I get that, too. The price of the Kindle is very, very attractive.

    Misty, it’s funny how some quests for world domination bother me and others don’t. We are an Apple family through and through. But I do feel guilty about that sometimes.

    Sharon, I understand what you’re saying about Amazon. Still wrestling with all of this. But I have no doubt that you’re right about how much I’ll like having the ereader. Thanks!

  • I’m contemplating dropping the night job soon after the new year. It’s kickin’ my butt. Gotta pay a couple things off and save for a weekend for me and my wife, but after that, I fear I’ll be busy enough, since Rogue 5 just got picked up. 😉

  • Oh, and the Kindle wasn’t bad, but our Fire won’t charge anymore. Sounds like it was a common problem with the charging port on the Kindle Fires. I hope they fixed the problem. That’s another thing I need to get repaired.

  • I sometimes read with my Kindle app on my regular iPad. I don’t mind it. A librarian I know swears by his Kindle because of the e-ink being better on the eyes. Alternately, there’s always the Kobo…

    Congrats on the sale, Daniel!

    My eyes are bugging out at all the work you manage to juggle, David. I *was* working on my UF piece, but I’m setting it aside for a good reason: I participated in PitchWars, where hopefuls pitch to author mentors who work with their chosen writer and two alternates, and then showcase a query plus small snippet for agents. I was selected as an alternate last week, and my mentor has given me homework. Stuff my CP and I missed. So I’m back to that. Plus I have a few items in my beta-reading pile. Ulp. Holiday crazies have nothing on writing crazies.

  • Razziecat

    David, you’re Superman! Seriously, I cannot even imagine doing all of that! Yikes. Good luck with all of it, and I have to say I’m very excited to read all of those books 😀

    I have a Kindle because I could afford that particular e-reader. It’s the older keyboard model, works fine, and is easy to carry. I also bought a hand-tooled leather cover from Oberon Design. They have beautiful stuff. I’ve been kicking around the idea of buying a tablet, but not the iPad, which is kinda outside my budget.

    2013 has been a strange writing year for me. I’ve learned a lot, certain things look much clearer to me, and I’ve got decisions to make in re: to genre. I can’t believe it’s almost the end of the year already!

  • Sounds like a good idea, Daniel. Thanks for the feedback on the tablets. And HUGE congrats on the sale!!!

    Laura, thanks. Busy is a good place for a writer to be. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but not that long ago I was despairing that I didn’t have enough work; this is way better than that. Cool about the Pitch Wars. Well done!!

    Razz, thank you. As I said to Laura. I am very happy to be busy. It’s a lot, but it’s manageable and I know I can do it. So I’m excited. Thanks for your thoughts on the Kindle.

  • quillet

    Wow, yes, you’re Superman. Reading all the stuff you’re accomplishing makes me feel like a slug. Kudos to you! (And inspiration for me for some New Year’s resolutions…)

    We’re an Apple family too and I don’t feel at all guilty about it. It’s quality stuff, it suits us, it lasts well. So…there’s my bias. With an iPad, you can have a Kindle app, a Kobo app, and an iBooks app. The apps themselves are free, so you can buy your books where you like. Of course you can put lots of other distractions on it too! 😉 Plus everything will sync nicely with your other Apple stuff.

    The downside is definitely the backlit screen. If you have an iPhone, put a book on there (lots of freebies available, especially the classics) and try reading it (you can make the font big) to see if your eyes like the screen or not. If not, you might be better off with a dedicated e-reader. Their screens are reputed to be much easier on the eyes. Also try reading in bright sunlight, if you’re likely to do so with your eventual purchase. And go with what suits you. 🙂

  • Re: Struggles. Whenever I try to force my writing, it comes out weak. My recommendations are (1) schedule times when you don’t do any writing. Perhaps spend a few days just reading books you think you’ll enjoy — as opposed to ones you “have” to read, and (2) don’t schedule your writing so tightly that you can’t decide to switch projects for a day or two. That way you can work on the book/project you feel most inspired by at that moment. Of course, not having any contracts that I have to fill, it’s easy for me to make such recommendations, but I do think we all do our best writing when we feel excited about sitting down at the computer.
    Re: Tablet: IPad for the benefits of having all your devises in sync.

  • Thanks, Quillet. We all work at our own pace, and I’ve built up to this over many, many years. No slugs here. I agree with your take on the Apple stuff. That’s where I’m leaning today, particularly after doing more research on dedicated e-readers (the cheaper alternative by far), and finding that there really is no perfect solution there. I will miss the backlit screen, but I can count on one hand the number of days in a given year when I find myself reading in direct sunlight. Many thanks for the advice.

    Xman, those are great suggestions, thanks. And yes, agreed on the iPad.