Banner image - How do I know when I'm done editing?

When is it time to move on to the next chapter?

As I’m neck deep in the editing process of Grim Curio, I continually find myself against the problem of knowing when a chapter is “complete”. It’s a weird thing because it’s entirely possible to edit too much. I know cause I’ve done it.

For me, when a chapter is nearing completion I can read through it without being interrupted by external thoughts. I like to feel completely immersed. So if I find a clunky phrase, it’s gotta be unclunked. If I wonder about a logic gap, that gap’s gotta be filled. And if any scene or emotion doesn’t strike me as true, it’s gotta be truified.

The only way I can know this is done is by reading through my chapters over and over again, and that takes time. A lot of time. So my process is slow, likely imperfect, but when I get a chapter feeling right, I know it. That’s when I’m able to move on. It’s a feeling.

Now I need to work on getting to that point faster.

The current state of Grim Curio & Peculiar Case of the Luminous Eye

It’s been a while since I stepped away from all things blog and social media related. December 2018 came around and I felt like I needed to avert my gaze from the internet for a time. But I’ve remained busy, so today I’ll take a moment to share with you what’s been going on.

Grim Curio

Grim Curio is my current major work in progress, a novel about the refugees in the last city on left earth after three calamities ravaged the planet. Last year I sent it out to 15 beta readers, received excellent feedback, then set the novel aside for a while to get some perspective.

In that off time, I wrote Peculiar Case, but when that work finished, I returned to edit Grim Curio and have been hard at work ever since. The edits are going slow but well. After editing and reading the first quarter of the novel several times, I feel like it’s almost in a finished state.

So that leaves three quarters of the novel left to go. Here’s the kind of changes I’m making:

More explicit communication of themes

I’m being more explicit about my themes. There are lots of themes that touch on the current state of the world, but turn them on their head. I didn’t shy away from controversial topics in the earlier drafts, but now I’m making everything explicit.

Readers of the latest edits have really responded to this, and it seems the direct nature of the themes makes them take a second to think not only about the state of the world of Grim Curio but about the state of the real world as well, which is what I want. It’s entertaining but hopefully will shift something in your brain if I do my job right.

Seamless transition between narration and character thought

One goal of mine was to make the reader feel like they intimately understand the main characters. I want you to feel like you’re in their heads, but I also hate italics as thought markers in other novels, and I feel like jumping from narration to internal thought is jarring in most novels.

So I came up with a stylistic solution that I’ve never seen done before and I’m really proud of. In the current edit, I’m spreading this style of internal thought through seamless narration shifts throughout. It takes a lot of thought to make it work but it’ll be worth it in the end.

Adding scenes where there seems to be a gap in the story or logic

This is an obvious one, but occasionally the jump from one scene to the next is jarring. In the previous draft, the reader would need to piece together what might have happened to get from one scene to the next. This issue wasn’t prevalent throughout but there were definitely a few times where it pops up.

In most cases, a paragraph or two seems to solve the issue, but in one major case I’m adding an entire new chapter. As you might imagine, this is the most time consuming part of the edit as new scenes take several pass throughs and edits themselves in order to be brought up to snuff with the rest of the novel.

Removing some experimental narration

In the earlier drafts, I had many cases where I was trying something new. I wanted to create an atmosphere where the narrator could occasionally address the characters as if a character itself. While I enjoyed it, it was clear my readers we very split on these bits.

It was an experiment after all and it looks as if the experiment failed. So I’m rewriting these scenes to follow a more traditional style of narration. Perhaps another day in another novel I’ll be able to perfect this, but for now I’m cutting my losses and moving on without this element to the novel.

So that’s what’s been going on with Grim Curio. But there’s another novel I have up in the air, and I’ve been getting a lot of questions about it, so let’s take a sec to talk about Peculiar Case.

The Peculiar Case of the Luminous Eye

I had planned on documenting the publication process of this one and I dropped the ball when I stepped away from the internet. So here’s what’s happening with that.

Last year I published Peculiar Case on Patreon before I sending it out to publications. I learned something through that process. Apparently, publications consider having something published on Patreon as “previously published” and most won’t accept it at that point.

Currently, it’s still readable to patrons on my Patreon page. For now, I’ve stopped sending it out to magazines. I have two options with it, self publish or keep it in my back pocket until after Grim Curio is published so I have a nice follow-up novel. I’m leaning towards the latter.

So Peculiar Case is out there for you to read if you want to be a patron, but for publishing purposes, I’m holding off for the time being while I strategize my publishing career. It’s a bummer, but I think to wait, in the long run, will work out to my benefit.

Attempt #1 – Publishing Peculiar Case

Hello dear reader. It’s been a while. I’ve been away from the internet for most of the holidays. It wasn’t exactly planned, but it wasn’t terrible either. Hope you had a great holiday season, happy new year, and and a general good go at things.

As for me, I have news about my recent novelette The Peculiar Case of the Luminous Eye. I finished writing it early December and shared with beta readers and Patrons, but now I’m taking the next step and reaching out to publications!

I just submitted Peculiar Case to Asimov Magazine and I’m hopeful it’ll find a home in one of their upcoming issues. You never know how these things will go, but I’m feeling great about this story. Publishing it in a reputable place will help me achieve one of my many goals of 2019.

Specifically, I want to expand my fan base and make my next novel, Grim Curio, a best seller. I’m hoping Peculiar Case is able to take me a step closer to both those goal.

Seth Godin said something along the lines of, “Don’t go looking for agents, write something so compelling that they come looking for you.” That’s my mentality right now. There very well may come a time where I actively search for agents, but till then, I hope to publish Peculiar Case somewhere where it will be noticed and unable to be ignored.

So that’s what I’ve been working on the past month. Cross your fingers for me. And if you’ve read any good books lately, be sure to let me know in the comments.

Now in early access, The Peculiar Case of the Luminous Eye only on Patreon.com/SCBarrus

Announcing Early Access feat. The Peculiar Case of the Luminous Eye

Early Access is here, and it’s on Patreon now! For the past year, I’ve been working on a way to deliver Early Access stories to you so you can read and support my work before it’s published. Today is the day where it all comes together.

Starting with my brand new novella The Peculiar Case of the Luminous Eye, you can read my upcoming works before anyone else. In fact, the entirety of Peculiar Case is available in early access right now. Read it today!

The Peculiar Case of the Luminous Eye

A distraught client comes knocking in the dead of night seeking Willem, a detective specializing in supernatural anomalies. Her employer, a wealthy recluse with macabre sensibilities, suffers from an otherworldly disease—ghostly blue parasites live in his eye.

Willem set’s to work at what may become the most dangerous case of his career. With the help of Dr. Florence, a gifted surgeon and Willem’s infatuation, they seek to save their client’s life. But things are worse than they feared, and soon it is they who will need to be saved.

If you want to start reading The Peculiar Case of the Luminous Eye, jump on in. Or read on to learn more about my Early Access progra.

What is Early Access?

Early Access is a new feature I’ve put together on Patreon—it’s how you can read my upcoming works before they’re published. They’ve gone through several rounds of editing, including a developmental edit, beta read, and a round of high-tech machine-learning-fueled proofreading.

While Early Access works will have several free to read parts, to gain access to the entire story you’ll need to be a Patron, which you can become for only $1. Great news, that $1 will also earn you my complete library of ebooks! That’s 2 published novels, 3 short stories, and 1 Early Access novella. And if you stick around, there are 2 more novels planned for Early Access in 2019.

Become a patron today.

That’s all from me today, but I have more cool things to announcing in the coming months, so be sure to stop by my blog often to make sure you’re always in the loop.

S.C. Barrus Progress Report

The state of S.C. Barrus – Updates on Discovering Aberration, The Gin Thief, Grim Curio & more

I’m juggling a lot of projects right now which is keeping me really busy. But from the perspective of an outsider, it may seem like I’ve been twiddling my thumbs.

Despite the void that is my recent releases, I’ve actually been progressing nicely on a number of projects. In the last year, I wrote a novel, edited another, began work an a novella, rebooted my newsletter, began a YouTube channel, and I even took some time to plan a surprise for you guys 🤫

In light of all this, today I’m taking a moment to share the status of nearly every single project I’m working on. So let’s get started.

Release Order

Before diving into the specifics, let’s take a look at the current order of releases any dates attached—because I don’t do that anymore 🧐.

  1. Super secret short story 😮
  2. Discovering Aberration: Revised Edition
  3. The Gin Thief: Ep 2
  4. The rest of The Gin Thief episodes.
  5. Grim Curio (perhaps released in the middle of Gin Thief episodes)
  6. Half-price Hitman (we’re talking at least two years out)

My goal here is to hit a cadence of at least one major release every year from here on out. The one caveat is The Gin Thief episodes. I consider 2-3 episodes to equal one major release.

When you want to move a freight train, it takes a while to build up steam, but the momentum carries it forward. So I guess my books are a freight train or something.

via GIPHY

Don’t be surprised if a short story or two get thrown into the mix. I’ve been contemplating starting a pattern of releasing a short story between each novel with a collection released every few years. Why not?

Ok, now on to the specifics.

Discovering Aberration: Revised Edtion

A few months ago I revealed I was fixing some issues that Discovering Aberration was facing. Technical errors and irregular pacing made it into the release, so I took it upon myself to clean it up and rerelease it before I strike out on this second stage of my publishing career.

I finished editing the book several weeks ago then passed it along to my editor. A few days later I heard back from her. “I’m so sorry,” she said, “But it lost a lot of the charm in the rewrite.” 😱

On the upside, she hardly found any errors. Sooooooo……. I guess that’s a win.

I overdid it, plain and simple. Now I need to go back through it with a lighter touch, so a second round of edits is in order. sigh.

via GIPHY

Together, we’ve come up with a strategy to address this nightmare. I’ll go into what we’re doing in another post, but we think we can keep the improvements and not lose any of the charm along the way.

It’s going to take some work. I suspect this pushes back the release a couple months. But I think we’ll still hit a 2018 release date. I mean, please let me hit this dateoccasionally one. Please? Fingers crossed.

The Gin Thief: Episodes

The delay of DA: RE is sadly going to affect the release of The Gin Thief: Ep. 2. 

I know….

Delays have this cascading effect that isn’t much fun. I really don’t know if Episode 2 is going to squeeze in 2018 anymore (didn’t I once promise it out by February 2018? See why I gave up on release dates), though I remain pessimistically hopeful.

I’m trying hard to make 2018 happen, but it may turn out to be an early 2019 release. Sorry. For real, sorry. But it’s coming.

After Episode 2 is released, I’m going to soldier on and draft all of the remaining episodes in one go. Then I’ll set them aside much like I did for Grim Curio, focus on finishing Grim Curio, then return to the episodes for a final round of edits.

Grim Curio

Grim Curio is currently in a state of hibernation. The draft is done, beta reads are done, editing round 1 is done. Now I have some rewrites to do before it goes through the editing process again, but I won’t start rewrites until after the release of The Gin Thief Episodes are all drafted.

I think this strategy will lead to a stronger novel while also keeping me on track to push out those episodes. It’s not easy to write this way, but I think it’ll be worth it in the long run.

Get it? Green Day? I’m taking the long view. Like the Green Day song. Wow that’s a stretch.

via GIPHY

Half-price Hitman

And at last, we come to Half-price Hitman. This one is just a small side project which isn’t actively being written. I’m using it as a way to demonstrate my writing process to patrons.

So occasionally I’ll document myself in one stage of the writing process or another using this as an example. It’ll eventually turn into a full-fledged project, but it has no release date in sight. If you become a patron you can see it evolve as I share everything behind the scenes.

As for the super secret short story…

Delay’s aren’t fun, and I need to get something new out there.

I thought I’d have Discovering Aberration: Revised Edition out within a couple of weeks, but since that’s no longer the case, I wracked my brain for a way to deliver something to you without a substantial time commitment on my part. It had to be something I’d already written, something good enough to see the light of day, something I could put out there and be proud of in less than 2 weeks.

Tall order. But I found it!!! Get this, it’s still super secret. I’ll tell you this, it’s a short story that has an indirect relation to both Discovering Aberration and Grim Curio but isn’t directly set in either universe. And it’ll be free to newsletter subscribers and patrons.

That’s all from me today. Hopefully there’s something in this list that you’re excited about. And if so, why not subscribe to my newsletter. There are some cool benefits nobody even knows about yet (plus you get a free copy of Discovering Aberration).

PNWA Novel Contest Results

Before we dive into the results of my PNWA novel contest entry, I’ve got a bit of an announcement. I’m making video content now! That’s one more way for you to get to know me. I may not be great at it yet, but I’m learning as I go. More videos to come.

So, the contest. 

About five or six months ago I submitted my manuscript for Grim Curio to the Pacific Northwest Writers Association novel contest. Recently I received the results of my entry, and unfortunately I didn’t win.

But I feel really great about it anyway. Why?

As part of the contest, I received two detailed critiques from literary agents who were judging the competition. These were rave critiques. In fact, they lead me to believe that I didn’t advance in the competition due to a technical error on my part. I was supposed to submit a synopsis of my novel, but I submitting something closer to a query letter.

In the video above I share a bit more about the process, some of the feedback I received, and talk about why this rejection has actually boosted my confidence. There’s always next year.

Why I joined Patreon & why you should too

Thanks to the advice of two books, Show Your Work by Austin Kleon (my review here) and Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins (still reading but highly recommend), I’ve launched a Patreon page.

First, let’s talk about what it is, then why I—or any other creative—might want to try it out.

What is Patreon

The creators of Patreon describe the platfom like this:

Patreon exists because when artists get paid, they can create more amazing things.

What is Patreon

Sounds pretty good right? It’s a platform for people like you to support the artists you love by pledging a monthly payment them. This enables artists to have a predictable income, and helps funds their projects. In return, you get cool exclusive stuff and peeks behind the scenes.

Why Patreon is important to creators

In Real Artists Don’t Starve, Jeff Goins share’s many arguments for why an artist needs a patron, or several. He explains that a patron can take many forms.

If you are going to create work that matters, you are going to need an advocate—a person who sees your potential and believes in your work. This isn’t just about money. You need someone to give you a chance, maybe even connect you to the right people. The publisher who pays an author’s book advance is a patron. The venture capitalist who funds a start-up in Silicon Valley is one too. But so is the church who gives a minister a salary or the donors who support nonprofit organizations around the world. Patrons do not just make the arts possible; they make the world we inhabit—and so often take for granted—possible.

Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins

Back in the day, a patron of the arts would literally commission an artist full time in order to support them. But as times changed, patrons became rarer.

These days, artists need patrons to survive. Published authors are making less and less money, even while publishing is doing better than ever. If you want to make it in the arts, it’s not enough just to have a book that sells. You need someone, or a group of someones, who are willing to champion your work, and even give you a little cash to support it.

In the New Renaissance, patrons are not some elite class of influencers. They are all around us.

Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins

Why join Patreon now?

I’ve had a plan for a long time to eventually join Patreon, but I was waiting for the right timing. I wanted to re-edit Discovering Aberration and wanted to release The Gin Thief: Episode Two, and then I thought the timing would be perfect.

But what I’ve come to learn lately is that if you want to make it as an artists, the timing is now! If you’re always waiting for the timing to be perfect, then you’re going to miss out on all kinds of opportunities.

When the Starving Artist waits to be noticed, the Thriving Artist finds a patron and shows that her work is worth investing in.

I

What you get by becoming my Patron

If you decide you want to support me by pledging $1 or more per month, you get several fun things in return. First, $1 get’s you all of my ebooks.

Right now you have access to Discovering Aberration and The Gin Thief: Episode one plus all future releases, and early access to upcoming releases like Grim Curio (the first 55 pages are available on Patreon now). In the coming days I’m adding short stories and some unpublished manuscripts.

Beyond this, I’m trying to cultivate a fun fan experience. First of which is our Christopher Nolan movie club where we watch and discuss every movie Christopher Nolan directed. We’re starting with Following and will end with Dunkirk.

There will be more fun stuff too. My patrons will have the chance to really get to know me, see exclusive behind the scenes material, and more. Should be a good time.

If all this sounds like something you want to support, all you need to do is visit my Patreon page and pledge $1 or more, and you’ll have access to all of this.

And if you’re a creator, now is probably the best time to cultivate your own patrons, because if you wait you’ll be missing out in the support your fans want to give you.

Announcing Discovering Aberration: Revised Edition (and how to get it for free)

Not long ago I announced I was done writing the first draft of Grim Curio. Now it’s time for me to switch gears while I give GC to beta readers and confidants for feedback. I’ll come back to it in a few months, but til then I have a few other projects lined up.

As many of you already know, the next project on my slate is writing the long overdue The Gin Thief: Episode 2. So long overdue, in fact, that I need a refresher on the subject material. So I’m rereading Discovering Aberration and The Gin Thief: E1. Which leads me to the meat of this post…

Discovering Aberration: Revised Edition coming soon!

That’s right. I’m giving DA some love this year. The biggest criticisms it received were around mistakes in proofreading. So while I read through it, I’m revising and re-releasing it. In fact, I’m already 20% of the way through it.

What is the goal with this revision?

My plan is to keep my touch as light as possible while addressing it’s issues. It wont turn into a full rewrite. The structure and plot will remain identical. Instead, my goal is to simply clean up sections that need it, trim some of the fat, and fix errors.

Why are you revising it?

Simple, it’s weaknesses are holding it back. Initially the novel released to pretty strong sales, but they have declined to a trickle. I’ve tried to diagnose the issues and believe they are as follows:

  • Reviews that focus on poor proofreading
  • A convoluted first scene in chapter 1
  • A cover that doesn’t match its genre (possibly, will know after I address the issues above)
  • My own hesitation to sell a book with known errors

I need to address these if I don’t want DA to end up holding my career back. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does need to be better.

Will it get a new cover? 

I don’t know yet. I love Discovering Aberration‘s cover. The team at The Book Designers did a fantastic job. They followed all my instructions and created a work of art. I have no complaints about the cover itself or their work.

But…. I’ve now been in publishing for a few years, and I’ve learned a lot I didn’t know then. In this case, the cover I told them to make DA doesn’t look like other books in its genre and that may be affecting sales. It’s likely that a new cover which better matches steampunk best sellers will entice more readers to give it a chance.

It’s a tough question, and potentially one with an expensive answer. Not sure what I’m going to do anything with the cover, time will tell I guess.

Will this delay The Gin Thief: Episode 2?

Just a bit. But as I said, I’m keeping my touch light and in just over a week and a half I’m 20% through it. I’m not rewriting, I’m cleaning up. So the delay should be minimal. I need to read through the book anyway to immerse myself back into that universe, and in the end this will be the best thing for my writing career. TGT: E2 is coming, and this is part of the process.

When will the revised edition be released?

Don’t know. I’ve given up with release dates. I’ve never once made an accurate prediction, so I’m not trying anymore. It’ll be released as soon as it’s done, hopefully not long. My goal is to have both DA: RE and TGT: E2 out by the end of the year. Is that goal realistic? I don’t know, but it’s what I’m shooting for.


If you want to receive a FREE copy of Discovering Aberration: Revised Edition upon its release, sign up for my mailing list. When it’s out, I’ll be gifting every one of my mailing list subscribers a free digital copy.

Grim Curio’s First Draft is Finished

via GIPHY

After roughly a year and a four months, I’ve finished drafting Grim Curio! I climbed the largest mountain on the road to publishing my next work, and I feel thrilled. This is easily my most ambitious project yet, and I’m really proud of it so far.

There’s still a lot of work ahead, but you’ve got to take time to celebrate every accomplishment or you’ll get burned out in this game. I’m celebrating by taking a couple of weeks off writing and playing God of War or something. I’ll probably get antsy before the break is up and start writing again, but that’s the plan anyway.

Fun Facts

In its current state, Grim Curio clocks in at 112,000 words. It has 3 parts consisting of 29 chapters. If I were to print it, double spaced sized 12 font, it would be 436 pages.

The first and last 5 chapters easily took up the bulk of the writing time. Beginnings and endings are hard, but beginnings have the advantage of fresh enthusiasm. There were several rewrites of the first 10 chapters before I got the feeling right, and one major revision midway through.

What now?

Now I’m going to put Grim Curio aside for a couple of months to let it rest. Then I’ll come back to it with fresh eyes and tons of notes from my beta readers. In the meantime, I’m already starting work on my next few projects. I’ll talk a bit more about them later, but they involve a t-shirt, another book, and possibly Patreon.

When will Grim Curio be published?

That’s a big question I get asked often. Unlike Discovering Aberration and The Gin Thief, I don’t plan on publishing Grim Curio myself. Instead I’ll query agents, get representation, find a publisher, then go through the traditional process. This process may take a year or two to complete. We’ll see.

In short, I don’t know when it’ll be published.

In the mean time…

I’ve got a lot of work on other projects ahead of me. I’ll continue to keep you posted on all of the comings and goings here, so stop by often. And sign up for my mailing list if you want to be notified when Grim Curio get’s published.

My Roadmap: A flow chart of what I’m working on

Right now I’m working on so many projects, sometimes it’s hard for me to keep them straight. I imagine it might also be difficult for you to follow along. So to try to, eh, clarify, I created this flowchart.

The bar on the left measures a project’s level of completeness. The bar on the bottom signifies time. So the projects in the top right are nearly complete but way in the future. To be honest, I’m not sure how much it does clarify. Maybe I’ll take another crack at it sometime in the near future.