I made my first calzones today. The first was kinda crumby. A teeny burnt, too thick, and I put too much sauce in it. Don't worry though. I decided research was a good idea AFTER the first one, so I looked for tips online and tweaked for the second and it came out looking very, very nice and not leaking even a little bit. I'm not sure how I feel about calzones. Most of the time they sound amazing but end up being a folded pizza with not enough flavors to make it worth it. Yet once in a while I get a calzone that is spicy and meaty without giving me heartburn and I go home feeling awesome. The calzones I made tonight were good as far as calzones go, but they were definitely of the first variety. I want to get good enough to make the second type. So. I'm gonna try ricotta on the next one.

As for my second edit: it is finished and looked over again and again. I feel really good about the changes I made. Bookstore Guy Steve gave the changes his thumbs up tonight (thanks for a look-see on such short notice). I knocked about eight thousand off the word count and it makes the story move along much faster. Adding chapter tags also helps artificially increase the pace as it gives readers strong markers for their progress.

I've been considering what to work on next. A lot of it will depend on my next conversation with my agent. I sent her a Promise of Blood sequel synopsis to glance at and I need to brainstorm book 3. I'm seriously considering a pitch for a five book series at this point as I think three is too short for the story I want to tell. That may not be sellable, however. You know. Me being a new author and all.

I hesitate to start book two until we've gotten a nibble from an editor. I have a subtle fear in the back of my mind that all of this will be for naught, and no one will accept my book and I'll have to go back to square one. So much for unwavering self confidence.

I really want to get back to a previous project. Not to the exclusion of a PoB sequel, of course, but rather as another brand to stick in the fire. If it takes Caitlin a month to get back to me with her edit of PoB, I may very well be able to have a finished Drums of War for her to look at. I feel that I have learned so very much from the experience with PoB that I can apply that to my old books (both DoW and Butcher's Price) and make some serious revisions and have a set of fantastic books to offer. Both DoW and BP were good books. I've become a better writer since completing them, and I've learned a great deal about storytelling and I can make them into sellable books.

So there's my musings for the night. I have an amazing feeling of being able to write anything right now--it's the same feeling I had before my five month marathon that culminated in Promise's completion. I think it's a good way to start the new year.

Holidays are Hell on Productivity

The last two weeks has been somewhat of a whirlwind, as I'm sure it has been for pretty much everyone out there. I've been pretty much just a notch over useless for that period of time and to be honest, it was wonderful.

Caitlin was very kind to give me a soft date of January 10th for my next edit, and let me know that there was no pressure as we were not working with publishers yet. I'm going to keep the pressure on myself, however, as I need to learn to meet deadlines. I've got a lot of work done, I've got a lot of work to do, and I have seven days to do it in. I will be, ahem, unavailable until next Monday.

I got some great stuff for Christmas. Some wonderful essentials from everyone: my oldest brother's family gave me a new hand mixer and chocolate covered pretzels (yes, choco-pretzels are an essential). A new fondue pot from another brother, and a free-standing recipe holder from my sister, a hand made pizza peal from another brother, cookies and hand-made ornaments from another and numerous other awesome stuff that I'm surely offending people by not listing. I only now realized that easily three quarters of my gifts had to do with food or baking. That's what I get for giving everyone chocolate chip cookies for their birthdays.

I received another wonderful gift quite unexpectedly from Isaac Stewart (the guy who does a lot of art and maps for Brandon Sanderson's books and doesn't have a website so why don't you get on that Isaac?) in the form of Brandon's latest book, The Way of Kings. I'm looking forward to hitting that book hard while Caitlin has my next edit in a week or so.

I continually find myself about 60-100 posts (or 1-2 weeks) behind in my google reader and playing catch up to read industry blogs. An interesting trend I'm seeing for the year end is that agents who blog also like to put up their numbers for the year.

Being a numbers guy myself--I use spreadsheets for everything, from finances to WoW to writing--I enjoy this. The first thing I noticed was that agents are wildly different. I've been told this, but the numbers backed it up. Two single agents each pulled down around 3K and 5K queries for the year, and offered reps on just 10 and 2 manuscripts respectively. Another agency of two agents had total numbers of 36000 queries for the year (holy crap) and offered on... wait for it... 9 manuscripts. The numbers are kind of staggering to someone looking to get an agent and they make me feel really grateful that my book got the kind of response it did. An agent-less author should take some heart from the numbers though and realize that every agent wants different things, and is accepting different amounts, and don't get depressed about your first forty rejections.

Noms and Editing

I'm planning a major offensive on the baking front for Christmas Eve. I'm making my specialty giant Chocolate Chip cookies (I can only make six on a pan because the dough balls are a quarter cup) for the entire family as part of their Christmas presents--that's at least sixty cookies. And I'm making two pans of Michele's family's super-secret-recipe sweet rolls for Christmas morning breakfast. It doesn't sound like much. But it is. It's gonna be a wild time.

I have a firm due date for my next edit set as January 10th. Originally I thought "well that's gonna be a walk in the park." Then the last couple days I've been sizing up the holiday season and figuring out just how much free time I'm (not) gonna have. My brother moves to Saudi Arabia in January. One friend is in from San Francisco, another on leave from National Guard training, yet another in from DC. I have a wedding to go to this afternoon and I only get half a day off work each for Christmas and New Years because they fall on Saturdays. So I won't be able to coast through the rest of the edit at a leisurely pace like I planned but will have to pack it into the free time I find. Which is what everyone has to do. Makes me miss college and the 15 hours of free time I had every day.

Seeing so many people over the next few weeks I'm going to go for a record for using the words "my agent" as often as possible. It shouldn't be hard and I see most of my old high school friends infrequently enough that they won't want to stab me in the neck with a pencil after the thousandth time I've told them about my writing. Good times.

My in-laws were in town a couple weeks ago and got me an early Christmas present: A pizza stone. Ok, they got me several early Christmas presents, but the pizza stone is what I'm going to talk about now. I've used it to make four pizzas so far and I think I finally found a pizza dough recipe I like. It can be stretched and pulled and turns out nice and thin like I like it. I haven't gotten to the point of tossing the dough yet--though I want to some day. And I still can't quite stretch a perfect circle. It turns out as more of a derpy oval. With practice I will succeed. I bought enough mozzarella and pepperoni at Costco yesterday to cover fifty pizzas and stored it in the freezer so I want to make a couple of pizzas every week for... well, a while.

I have a goal to start posting pictures of my pizza and cookies and rolls and breads but then I finish making them and eat them because they look yummy and no photographic evidence is left behind. I'm sure I'll get around to it eventually, though. I think Michele took a picture of those sweet rolls last week. I'll have to dig it up.