What do you do when you finish your novel? (Guest Blog Post From Author Stefan Vucak)

Here is a guest blog post from author Stefan Vucak from his website. Check this post and more on his official website here!

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The last scene is written, the last piece of dialogue done … and it is finished! After slaving over the damned thing for seven months, I can sit back, heave a huge sigh of relief, and toast myself with a nice tumbler of bourbon. Another novel done and dusted.

Well, not quite.

The cursor is blinking, daring me to change a word, sentence, or paragraph. Glass in hand, I stare at the last page, replaying the book in my mind, savouring the good parts, mulling over the bits that could stand some polishing. Not just yet, my dear characters! I have to finish my bourbon first, and then do some basic maintenance.

First, I make a copy of the manuscript on my internal and external backup drive. If my primary drive packs it in, I haven’t lost anything. I wince at the number of times I read tales of woe on LinkedIn and Facebook where authors have not done ongoing backups as they write. The computer fails and … well, you know what happens: tears, gnashing of teeth, tearing of hair. Not nice. Lesson? Always do backups as you write!

With the book done, it is not ready for publishing, not by a long shot! As I write a section, I always do an edit before moving on to the next bit. After some twenty or thirty pages, I print them out and proofread the stuff. I am always amazed at things I missed editing online. The human mind is tricky, and it will sometimes fool you, automatically correcting errors your eyes pick up. Reading a printed page tends to give a more accurate world view to the brain, enabling me to correct the little bloopers that managed to avoid online obliteration.

Learning to be a stern, objective self-editor takes time and perseverance. Writers can become possessive about their creations, unwilling to admit that the product of their genius could possibly have punctuation, grammar, or word usage errors. Cut out that word or sentence? Cut off my hand instead! But cutting out that word or sentences is exactly what every writer must be prepared to do. Not only cut out that sentence, but a paragraph or page. Every piece of freshly finished writing must be viewed critically and any rough elements polished off. How much polishing is required depends on how good a writer is at writing.

It takes time to go over several hundred pages of manuscript, pen savagely attacking everything out of place, then updating the computer version. Done, ready to be released on unsuspecting readers! Again, not quite. Even though I don’t do a bad job editing my stuff, I am sure there is a little blooper or two grinning with glee that has managed to escape my eyes. To make sure the manuscript is as clean as possible, I send it off to a proofreader to kill off those wayward bloopers. When I get the thing back, sure enough, dead bloopers. After applying the corrections, I print out the whole thing again and, you guessed it, I do a final proofread. As you might expect, by the time it is all finished, I am heartily sick and tired of the book!

Anyway, I can now confidently publish the masterpiece! Confidently? There is never a perfectly finished book. After rereading some of my old novels, I invariably spot a word or phrase that should be cut or changed. I could keep polishing a novel forever, which would mean I would never get around to writing a new one. At some point, I have to let go and let the novel face critical readers and their reviews. Writing a novel is like rearing a child. From initial toddler paragraphs, to developing middle teens, and finally a finished manuscript. Once done, you have to let it make its own way in the world, maybe with a sniff or two.

The final step? Publish, of course!

Well, that is not really the final step. There is the ongoing marketing, but I have suffered enough pain for the moment. Let me recover a bit, okay?

All right, I have finished the novel, the damned thing is published, I push it along with some marketing, and then what? I don’t know about you, but I usually take some time off to clear my head and perhaps start tossing ideas for the next novel. I have several ideas on tap, and it takes a bit of time to sift through them, and nurture an idea that can be developed into a novel, or perhaps a short story. With a short story, I can get stuck into it fairly quickly. For a novel, that takes considerably more effort…and several glasses of bourbon.

You may want to check out the following article on planning a novel.

 

Author bio and links:

Stefan Vucak

Stefan Vučak has written eight Shadow Gods Saga sci-fi novels and six contemporary political drama books. He started writing science fiction while still in college, but did not get published until 2001. His Cry of Eagles won the Readers’ Favorite silver medal award, and his All the Evils was the prestigious Eric Hoffer contest finalist and Readers’ Favorite silver medal winner. Strike for Honor won the gold medal.

Stefan leveraged a successful career in the Information Technology industry, which took him to the Middle East working on cellphone systems. He applied his IT discipline to create realistic storylines for his books. Writing has been a road of discovery, helping him broaden his horizons. He also spends time as an editor and book reviewer. Stefan lives in Melbourne, Australia.

To learn more about Stefan, visit his:

Website: www.stefanvucak.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/StefanVucakAuthor

Twitter: @stefanvucak

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stefan-vucak-65572360

Read more about ‘Lifeliners’ here: https://www.stefanvucak.com/books/lifeliners/

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Interview With Author Stefan Vucak

1)     Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I was born in Croatia, and when my parents immigrated to Australia, I faced a new world, a new language, and a totally new way of life. My parents found it particularly difficult to integrate, but for me and my sister, as kids, we took it in stride. I had devoured books ever since I learned to read, which helped my transition, but writing in English was a path filled with spelling and grammar potholes. It took me a while to master it, and I am still not sure that I have it all. Anyway, while at the university, still reading avidly, I turned my hand to writing short stories, thinking it didn’t look all that hard. Thankfully, some of my early experiments will never see the light of day, but the process did help me hone my writing skills. I sent some of my stories to U.S. magazines, but without success. One day, I told myself, I will get published.

I always wanted to write. Well, not exactly always, but ever since I came across an illustrated book of Jules Verne’s ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’, the printed word fueled my imagination. In high school and university, I breezed through essay and writing assignments, truly puzzled why some of my classmates struggled. Books, of course, particularly science fiction, got my ideas factory churning. If others could write short stories and novels, so could I. I first turned my hand to writing short stories. I yearned for the day when people would walk past a bookstore and see my books on display. Vanity? Perhaps, but the fire burning deep within me that urged me to write, also compelled me to share the products of my imagination. Regrettably, just making my way in the world, I could not indulge my passion. I had to find a way to live and support myself. Hence my IT career, but that fire never went out, although I did allow it to die down a bit, frustrated at not being able to find a publisher. Publishing is a savage game, as I came to learn, and publishers are not keen to publish my books just because I wanted to see them in bookstores.

2)     What inspired you to write Lifeliners?

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‘Lifeliners’ began as an idea for a short story on a long flight from Europe to Melbourne, Australia, my home. I always have my notebook handy, never knowing when inspiration would strike. Tired of browsing through inflight entertainment, I began jotting down notes to flesh out a story about an emerging new human able to draw energy from someone by touching them. Birthrates in Western countries had been falling for a while, accompanied by growing sterility. A product of our high-pressure technological lifestyle and high density urban living, explained the pundits. Nature decided that lifeliners were the answer who would over time replace the ‘normals’. As expected, this development was not received well by the general population, and governments everywhere began to blame lifeliners for failure of bad economic policies, introducing draconian laws to curtail their rights and freedoms.

Well, I wrote the short story, posted it on my website, and I thought I was done with it. Time to finish what was then my latest book project ‘Legitimate Power’. Once I had it published, I began reviewing ideas for a new book – and kept coming back to the lifeliners story. It was one thing to write a short story, but fleshing it out into a full-length novel was not something I had in mind, wanting to write another contemporary political drama/thriller. But the bug had bitten me and lifeliners began to haunt my days. The only way I would have peace was to write the damned book.

3)     What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

When I write a novel, I don’t set out to promote a particular message to readers. If something emerges from the story that readers can relate to, it would be a byproduct of the story and the characters in it. Of course, most novels deal with familiar themes: personalities, conflict, betrayal, self-reflection, overcoming adversity; the list goes on. These are all present in any book, whether a crime novel, a political thriller, love story, or just a good adventure yarn. The hard part is for a writer to utilize these themes into what will hopefully end up as an enjoyable and entertaining read. After all, isn’t that the aim of every book?

4)     What drew you into this particular genre?

Although ‘Lifeliners’ is science fiction set in 2032, it is not hard sci-fi of my previous books. I suppose I could have set the novel in present time, but I did not feel comfortable with the idea. It would not feel ‘real’. Moving it slightly into the future and taking advantage of several emerging technologies has, I believe, provided enough time for lifeliners to emerge and generate an impact on societies and governments, and the negative reaction their presence has produced. The story background is also familiar to readers without having to create a new social setting far removed from present time.

5)     If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

With a science fiction series and six contemporary political drama/thriller novels behind me, I have created a number of interesting characters. During the writing process, they sometimes say and do unexpected and surprising things, and I allow them a degree of indulgence. I believe it spices up my writing. However, I don’t give them free reign, having to keep in mind the plot and the story. With ‘Lifeliners’, Nash Bannon has turned into a character with whom I could converse at length. Having the society at large after him, and lifeliners in general, his views on life, colored by negative experiences by his fellow humans, would provide a unique perspective on people, ethics, and behavioral norms. Our veneer of civilization is very thin, hiding what is a barely controlled savage. I would enjoy exploring all these things with him.

6)     What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I cannot say that any one social media outlet has helped brand my name or acted as a marketing platform for my books, or that any of them have helped boost my book sales. It is a tough game out there where some books do well for no apparent reason, and others simply fade away. I just plug away on several outlets, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, and trust that what I have to say will attract readers and buyers. Doing an occasional interview also helps! I use my website extensively to post general articles of interest, and blogs on writing, and the publishing industry in general.

7)     What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

If there is one thing I learned over the years as a writer, if anyone is contemplating taking this on seriously, he or she should be prepared to spend many lonely hours with a pencil and paper, and sitting behind a computer screen. There will be disappointments, frustration, angst … and moments of sheer exhilaration and satisfaction when the words flow and the creative process produces something wonderful. Writing is a gift, but it can also be a curse. However, once bitten with the urge to create, there is no cure.

These days, it is easy to self-publish, and outlets like Amazon and Smashwords are replete with good books. Unfortunately, they are also full of amateurish efforts, which has contributed to a negative reputation of ebooks. Most authors dream of finding an agent and being published by a traditional publisher. I have those thoughts myself. However, traditional publishers rarely take up new writers, always keeping an eye on the bottom line. They are running a business to make money, not cater to hopeful authors. It is tough, but that is the hard reality. Another tough reality is the ongoing need to market and promote my books. As I mentioned in one of my Tweets, ‘Writing fills my soul, and marketing empties it’.

8)     What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Having just finished ‘Lifeliners’, I need a break to recharge. I have a brief outline for a short story, and now that I have the time, I will flesh it out and post it to my website. Like most writers, I have a number of ideas for a new novel, but two stand out that I need to look at closely before deciding which one will end up as a book. For now, I will let both ideas simmer for a while, but not too long. The urge to write, to create, will not allow me to be idle for too long. Before tackling my next project, I will spend some time doing book reviews, hopefully provide editing services on the side, and indulge in reading, golf, and doing odd things around the house that I have been putting off. No hurry.

Author bio and links:

Stefan Vucak

Stefan Vučak has written eight Shadow Gods Saga sci-fi novels and six contemporary political drama books. He started writing science fiction while still in college, but did not get published until 2001. His Cry of Eagles won the Readers’ Favorite silver medal award, and his All the Evils was the prestigious Eric Hoffer contest finalist and Readers’ Favorite silver medal winner. Strike for Honor won the gold medal.

Stefan leveraged a successful career in the Information Technology industry, which took him to the Middle East working on cellphone systems. He applied his IT discipline to create realistic storylines for his books. Writing has been a road of discovery, helping him broaden his horizons. He also spends time as an editor and book reviewer. Stefan lives in Melbourne, Australia.

To learn more about Stefan, visit his:

Website: www.stefanvucak.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/StefanVucakAuthor

Twitter: @stefanvucak

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stefan-vucak-65572360

Read more about ‘Lifeliners’ here: https://www.stefanvucak.com/books/lifeliners/

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