Catch Up – Writing Report for June

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In the first of a series of catch up posts, please find below the writing report for June. Future (although still past from the moment) iterations of this might combine months.

These are going to be quick recaps, short and to the point, talking only basic accomplishments and skipping over what goals would have been as the plan has moved on from those.

Accomplishments in June:

  1. Plotting: about a third done on the detailed plotting for Strewn Across the Stars, the sequel to Scattered on the Wind.
  2. Big Hair Day completed at 50,112 words in the first draft, but lots of dictation clean up still to be done. Finished up on the 2nd of May.
  3. Converging Destiny: started the first draft and 24,006 words in.
  4. Short fiction: Finished “Emerald Storm” at 4625, put 1542 words in on a SF story that I’m not sure where it’s going, completing a story at 6841 words potentially for an anthology. Edited, it will probably slip over the edge into novelette territory.
  5. Editing: a whole three chapters of revision notes on Palace.
  6. Editing: Trollsign. 8 of 14 chapters done to the 3rd draft.
  7. 6 whole blog posts.
  8. 23 journal entries. There’s my non-fiction writing this month.

Total word count for June is 57,274. Not a bad total, considering two missed days and illness.

See, short and to the point. Not so easy for me.

Be well, everyone.

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Is There a Plan?

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Sort of.

While I haven’t published very much, or anything, on the blog since early June, I actually did draft a number of things here and there. I’m going to start popping those up if they’re still relevant, and maybe even if they’re not. Originally, my idea was to just backdate the posts to where they were supposed to go in first place, but that seems a trifle dishonest. So, instead, I’m going to see which of them are still relevant, make adjustments to the ones that aren’t, and post them all during the month of December on days when there isn’t something else I think I want to say.

I’m going to start, mostly, with the missing writing reports, although these were mostly come in a severely truncated form and will sometimes be grouped together. I think I have six of catch up on, counting November.

In between, I’ve got a few cover reveals for things I’m going to indie next year, plus a few odds and ends, and I’m likely to post more about my editing catch-up plan, plus, once I figure that it in detail.

Based on past history, I know approximately how many words per hour I tend to work through at the various drafting stages, but the problem there is I have no idea how much actual spare time I’m going to have to dedicate things. My intent is to try to carve at least an hour a day, but past experience tells me how difficult that is, especially recent past experience. My life is very complicated and complex at the moment and that doesn’t help. Complicating the writing part of my life further is the fact that I want to go back to school beginning next year, and that providing for my family is likely to take even more time in 2020 than it did in 2019. Things are going to have to change and adjust in a lot of ways.

But, changing, adjusting, adapting… that’s just how life works, is?

Be well, everyone.

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The Return!

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While I have said this for the last several months running, it is time to get the fiction writing back on track. But with a bit of a twist from my usual goals.

I did manage a little progress November, though it was mostly nonfiction, as is normal the last few months. And I have, over the last few days, although really only using a couple of minutes at a time, been going through the list of things I want to accomplish, and realized, as I have before, just how many things I have with a first draft complete but no editing done. Then if I expand that list to include things that are somewhere short of final draft status, the amount of backlog gets truly staggering.

It runs something like this:

Eight novels at first draft status. Eight! Although one of them was my first novel and no one will ever get to see it.

Four novels at completed first draft with revision notes made.

One novel at third draft status.

60 short stories first draft status. Holy crap. These range from a flash piece at just over 100 words to a 25,000-word novella. Not all of them are worth editing, but that will be part of the progress.

5 short stories that have seen some amount of editing.

And that doesn’t even look at all of the various things that I could mark as first draft in progress (27 short stories and 6 novels, 3 of which I consider at least semi-permanently stalled).

So, my decision is that I’m going to heavily focused on editing for next little while.

Dividing the calendar year into the traditional quarters, I’m going to focus primarily on editing, submissions, and publishing, until the end of Q1 2020, at least. Although, if we’re being entirely honest, I am completely expecting that when I do a review in the middle of February to gauge progress against what’s left, I’m going to extend that to the end of Q2.

That doesn’t mean I’ll be doing no drafting. I will, I hope, be doing plenty of blog posts and journal entries. On that note, I’m going to try to do the daily blog thing for the rest of December starting when this post goes up, which is likely to be the sixth of December as I dictate this.

But I’m not going to stop drafting fiction completely. For December through March 2020 (and probably through June) my fiction plan is for one short in the 4-7K range, and one flash piece in 1500 words or less range per month. This is partly to match up with a couple of other things I’m planning for next year, but mostly so that I continue to write fiction because I do still have a lot of stories to tell. All in progress novels, however, and there are three of them at the moment, are on hold as of now.

If you’re curious at just about the details of just how much incomplete or unpolished fiction I’ve got to take care of, I’ve put the complete list on a static page here and you can see just how crazy I am.

Be well, everyone.

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Karate Seminars and Writing

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So, having decided at the next to last second that I’d be attending a major martial arts seminar in Ottawa this past Saturday, I came to the realization that I’d probably have about 4 hours by myself in the car for dictation purposes. Historically speaking, that should get me somewhere between eight and twelve thousand very raw words to add to the total. Not a bad way to start the month when I’d planned to be home doing housework.

I actually got about 8500 words in but kept getting distracted by martial arts thoughts when I was trying to work on fiction. I’m still satisfied with the total but I felt like I struggled too much through the fiction, especially when I should have been focused on the climax of the novel I’ve been working on.

That said, the novel (Fallen Heroes) got an extra 3066 words in, but every one of the last four scenes was shorter than I’d planned it to be by a few hundred words. That was equal parts distraction and deciding that I’d really like to get it done during the trip if I could. I did, but every one of those last scenes is even more bare bones than my usual first draft. Which is okay, because there’s still lots of time for successive drafts.

And it was a day for finishing things.

One short story (“Old Japanese Spirit” a working title that doesn’t mean at all what you think, whatever you’re thinking) got an extra 411 words to be complete at 1618 for the first draft.

And another (“Emerald Storm”) got an extra 2552 to be complete at 4625 words.

Plus about 2500 words of martial arts thoughts across three separate bits I’m going to call journal entries for tracking purposes, but that mostly need to go in the training log I’ve been horrible at keeping for several years now.

Pretty happy with the result and gives the month a kickstart towards my goals.

Now, lots of editing to do.

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Report for May 2019

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So my word count for May is closer to what I’ve been expecting the “average” month to be: 62.8k. May was a tough month for the day job, with a lot of stuff sucking my energy and time away and our family situation altering a bit as my oldest settles back in to living at home, albeit mostly in his own space in the basement. Average monthly word count for the year is now about 72.7k, and I’m still pretty happy with how the year is shaping up.

Accomplishments in May:

  1. Plotting: finished the detailed outline level of what might be the first shorter novel (50-ish thousand words) in a series of pulp-y SF adventure stories. I have rough ideas for more stories, but I’m going to see how writing the first one goes before I dive too far down the rabbit hole.
  2. Plotting: finished the detailed outline level of a story partially set on Curaçao where we vacationed this year, involving a stranded alien and human trafficking.
  3. Big Hair Day completed at 50,112 words in the first draft, but lots of dictation clean up still to be done. Finished up on the 2nd of May.
  4. Fallen Heroes: switched to being the primary projected and, if a couple of spots have been a struggle, I’m finishing the month with this at 48k with about 5k left in primary plot. Shortest of the trilogy, but a complete story, I think, and it will be longer when it’s done the final draft.
  5. Short fiction: three short stories, all SF. “Stranded on the Moon” (not a final title) at 2997 words, “It’s All Downhill From Here” at 3307 words, and “Johnny and the Dread” at 5207 words. Two more in progress, both about half done. Might be finding my short fiction groove again.
  6. Editing: Forest. Finished the notes-making pass on this, with fewer things to fix than in Shrine. As these were originally one book, I’m not sure if that means it’s in better shape or not.
  7. Editing: Palace. Haven’t gotten too far into revision notes of what is now Book 4 of Troll World, so this will likely stretch a big part of June as well.
  8. 14 blog posts.
  9. 16 journal entries.

Total word count for the month of 62,803 and that’s a solid number, especially considering the interventions from life in the last 31 days.

On the publishing side of my goals:

  1. Turn the World Around technically published on the first of May. I mentioned that last month, so it’s possible I’m taking double credit here. The serial started on Wattpad, as well.
  2. Heroes Inc. launchedas both e-book and paperback on May 31st.
  3. “Babysitting the Taran-Saurus” dropped as an ebook on May 15th.
  4. Graceland complete and programmed to drop on June 12th.
  5. Also on Wattpad, Skip to My Luu continues as a serial. It will be going there for most of the year.
  6. Fanfic, Fractured Unity is scheduled for June 16th launch on Wattpad and file availability.
  7. Short Story Submissions: 10. Hey, made the goal for once. Should I mention I did these all in one day?

Next up, primary writing goals for June. Not as light as the original May goals, but closer to the revised ones, with some increased daily targets on primary projects. The May resets basically had me hitting the primary goals all on the last day of the month, and that’s a bit tighter than I’d like, but is in the ballpark to make me feel like I’m actually working for those goals to be successful.

  1. Fallen Heroes first draft should be done not too far into June. I’m actually projecting June 5th at the moment, but there’s room for adjustment there.
  2. Which means it will be time to launch into the sequel to Universal Destiny, creatively titled Converging Destiny, fully plotted and fairly fresh in my head.
  3. Secondary Novel project: the Curaçao project. Looking for about 5k words, just enough to scratch the itch while still getting some short fiction done.
  4. Short Fiction: at least 10k in short fiction. Actually, between numbers 3 and 4, I’m looking for 15.5k for the month.
  5. Plotting: Strewn Across the Stars. Sequel to Scattered on the Wind.
  6. Editing: Palace, finishing revision notes.
  7. Editing: starting on Battlefield. If I can get all the way through Palace.
  8. Editing: “Trollsign”. I need to get this one to final draft because it’s on my list of things I want to turn into ebooks this year. Yeah, I was supposed to do that last month. It’s only 3rd and Final to go. Should be easy, right?
  9. Non-fiction word count goal for the month: 12500 words. Blog and journal, mainly, but we’ll see what happens.

Switching over to publishing:

  1. The standard target of 10 short story submissions.
  2. Keeping working on finding a home for Ancient Runes. Traditional publishing, so this goal is going to get repeated a lot, I think.
  3. Serialization continues for Skip to My Luu, “Turn the World Around”, and starts for Fractured Unity.
  4. Indie release for Graceland, and “Mummy Powder”.
  5. Pub prep for the haiku collection as well as “Design for Conspiracy” (ST:TOS fanfic).
  6. Design prep for Universal Destiny and “OCS Bound”. These are for August publication and will keep me two months ahead.
  7. Design prep for “Trollsign” and “Sub-Solar Whispers” (ST:TOS fanfic). These are for September publication, so this will get me to where I’m working three months ahead and that’s my target.

Remembering that post about goal revision {link here}, I have set the dailies a bit higher than they were previously for June, similar to the revised versions for May. With that in mind, the total word goal for the month is actually 60k, which includes the assumption that the novel I want to do the detailed plotting on will be worth 5k. I haven’t included words from plotting goals in the past, but that’s a rough average for detailed plot documents on novel-length stories in the past year for me, so it seems fair.

Be well, everyone.

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Finishing the Week Farther Behind

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Have you ever had one of those weeks where, no matter how much you get done, you finish the week further behind than you started?

That’s what this week felt like. And last week, for that matter. Every individual day was productive as hell. I answered things, submitted things to the right agencies, wrote things, did things, talked to people, completed projects, checked things off the list.

But, at the end of the day on Friday (which was actually Saturday), there is more email in the inbox it still has to be dealt with, more tasks on the task list, more documents that have to be submitted, more of everything than when I started working.

And next week is a short week, theoretically, because there was a holiday I haven’t caught up to yet.

There are moments, of course, that I wonder if I’ve done this to myself. Have I agreed to too many secondary hats at work? Am I trying to accomplish too much in my primary job? Is my primary job not actually doable within a reasonably close to standard workweek?

The person who is in this job right before me work to 70 to 80-hour week, or more, but was wearing two hats, doing two jobs for most of that time, and still waiting for their spouse to finish up their previous job in another province. I don’t know how much of their time was spent in my role. It probably didn’t help that we’d gone several months without a department head before they came on board and there were a lot of things left undone, plenty of which were still ongoing by the time I got to it. The person who had the job before them had a completely different methodology and outlook and I honestly have no idea how much time they spent on the actual job itself. I wasn’t in a position to have any idea.

So is it doable? I don’t know at this point, even almost a year in, if that question is answerable.

Actually, it would probably be entirely honest to say that I don’t know if any of those questions are answerable. I may just not know enough yet. I try to keep that as comforting thought, because it probably is true that at some point in the future, I will know enough, that I will get everything done the course of an approximately normal week, and then I can actually start getting good at the job instead of merely getting enough things done to keep the business moving.

But that’s probably going to take me a while to figure out.

In the meantime, a lot of my weeks have more on the list at the end of them there was when they started. I don’t know how long that’s maintainable.

Be well, everyone.

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This is Zesty Mike

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For non-herpers, she’s a Blue-Tongued skink.

She’s also a rescue (coming from the far side of Toronto) and part of my son’s burgeoning menagerie, currently at seven species of mostly reptiles. More on that another day. All you need to know right now is that menagerie is currently living with him in the basement apartment of our house. (He’s home for the summer this year and the menagerie had to come with him, obviously).

Lots of personality in this beautiful lizard, though she’s a messy eater sometimes. Fond of quail eggs, I understand, and almost as puppy-like as people keep telling me Bearded Dragons are.

Someday, she may have a mate. Which may mean that someday there will be the pitter patter of tiny skink feet. Currently, there are space limitations.

Wishing I could catch a photo of her with her eyes sort of half open. To me, her head takes on an even more draconic cast.

Be well, everyone.

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Heroes Inc

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So, the first time I try to set something to pre-order and give it a release date, and it looks like things worked.

Heroes Inc. is both an e-book and a paperback.

Amazon.com = https://www.amazon.com/Heroes-Inc-Citizen-Trilogy-1-ebook/dp/B07RXMRGMB/

Amazon.ca = https://www.amazon.ca/Heroes-Inc-Citizen-Trilogy-1-ebook/dp/B07RXMRGMB/

I tried to give the paperback cover a slightly different look while using the same image, and I’m happy with the result, but it still looks weird to me. I think that’s mostly because I’m used to the first one.

Be well, everyone.

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Cover Reveal Time!

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Graceland is a collection of short stories, one inspired by each of the songs on the Graceland album by Paul Simon. Science Fiction stories, to explain the cover image.

We all have that one album (or two or three or more), discovered in our teenage years that seems to stay with us for life. Graceland is one of a tiny handful for me, a single (“Call Me Al”) heard on the radio leading to an album purchase leading to music that I can still pop in and listen to the whole album 30+ years later.

I’m a Science Fiction (and Fantasy) writer, so when one day, listening to the album, I had an idea for a story that pulled a few phrases from “The Boy in the Bubble”, I scribbled the notes and started drafting. Not the first time I’d been inspired to write by listening to music. But then it happened again six months later with “Graceland” and near the end of the same year with “I Know What I Know”. At that point, I figured I had a trend, and over the next year found something I could call Science Fiction in the basic substance of every song.

The idea of putting them together into a collection came later, but not too much later.

But the cover, beautiful, no?

And yet, no Elvis, no guitar, no picture of the gates of Graceland. Believe me, I thought about all of these things. While Elvis makes a sort-of-appearance in one story (and he’s guitar-less), and music figures prominently more than once, the collection isn’t about Elvis or Graceland any more than the original album was. It’s a collection of SF stories inspired by the music, so the cover image, courtesy of Stefan Keller on Pixabay serves to underscore the Science Fiction nature of the collection, at least in my mind.

Scheduled publication date is currently 12 June 2019 and is the last of the planned spring e-books I’m going to launch.

Stay tuned for the summer list.

Be well, everyone.

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18

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Holy crap, my oldest daughter is 18 years old.

My little Squeaker, my independent toddler who nonetheless always had know I was watching, my in so very many ways incredible oldest daughter.

I’m going to forgo the usual sentimental dread where I remember first steps and first teeth, where I’m shocked and amazed at how long it’s been since I held her for the first time and how old she is. She’s 18 today, and that’s huge. She is tremendously politically and socially aware and I’m pretty sure she has a vision of a world that’s far better than the one we live in. Now, a legal adult, according to the norms our society she is legally able to express those views and hopes and dreams in all the ways. She’s intelligent and articulate and passionate, and she has a spark that tells me that maybe, just maybe, she wants to change the world.

Happy birthday, Little One. Take that intelligence and passion and run with it as far as fast as you can.

Be well, everyone.

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