Author: Lance

Lance Schonberg is an eclectic genre fiction author with more than 20 stories published or on the way, and two e-books coming soon: "Thorvald's Wyrd", and "Turn the World Around". And he needs a more exciting short bio.
Submission Log and More Commentary On Society

Submission Log and More Commentary On Society

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I have decided that I’m going to reboot the Submission Log, mostly because it’s been a long time since I’ve done any serious story submitting. I have a lot of short fiction I would like to get in front of readers and there’s no reason I shouldn’t get paid by someone for some of it, right? Even if it’s only a token payment here and there.

I’ve never written or submitted to “exposure” markets, because I disagree with the concept. If the publisher is expecting to make any money whatsoever, some of that money should go to the author. If you’re not interested in paying your authors, I’m not interested in doing business with you.

I have a couple of times written for royalties. One time, that was okay. The other, the editorial process was so long and involved that the royalties would have needed to total several hundred dollars to bring me up to minimum wage (at the time) for all of time and energy I put into the process. They were not.

Now some out there may be thinking that writers and artists shouldn’t expect to get paid a lot of money. To which, politely, I suggest that you’re misguided. No artist expects to get rich on their work, but if money is changing hands for a product then the people involved in producing that product should be making a living wage from it, and that includes the artist. I think that’s entirely reasonable, without going into Ellison style rant (but it’s well worth watching – here).

If, on the other hand, it’s your thought that artists should be happy getting their work out there and not be concerned about money at all, my slightly less polite response is, fuck you. You don’t expect your favourite movie and TV stars to work for free, your favourite sports players to work for free, or your favourite musicians to work for free, why would you expect artist to?

See how easy it is to go into a commentary on society?

But it is frequently worth commenting on society, and maybe that’s why I do it a lot. Sidesteps in blog posts here and there, entire blog posts sometimes, frequently in conversations by off and online, and, well, pretty much all the time time. Like or not I live in a society with a lot of problems that need talking about and dealing with. Expectation of writers and artists working for starvation or no wages is one of many.

Back to the point.

The submission log is still on file and looks back to even the first couple of stories I submitted way back when. Since I’m trying to make both submissions and short story publishing part of my overall plan, I really do need to track them. Independently published collections are part of the publishing plan in 2019, as is some novel-length work, fanfiction, and poetry. I’m doing a bunch of Star Trek fanfiction individual stories and a collection, although those will only be available for free. Fanfiction by definition has to be free unless sanctioned by the owners of the property. I’d love to, but never expect to, write Star Trek for money. But, if people like my Star Trek work, maybe it’ll lead some of them into my non-Trek work. If not, oh well.

Releasing something for exposure or giving it away for a little while is far different than someone only willing to pay exposure in order to make money themselves, btw. It’s a valid marketing tactic for indie traditional publisher, but the traditional publisher, no matter how small, needs to be aware that their authors deserve to be paid.

I’ve also got plans to do one themed collection a year for about the next five years, and that doesn’t stop me from just pulling together some of what I feel is my best work to do a non-themed collection. And I will be doing novels, and a poetry collection so self-publishing will be strong, but it’s not the only path. As I’ve mentioned, I will be looking for an agent or small press for some work.

I track word count and goals and I’m certainly going to track who I investigate for agents or publishers, so if I’m targeting five short story submissions per month for the rest of the year, including September (and 8-10 per month in 2019), I need that submission log. I need to know where I send things, who liked my work and should get more of it, who doesn’t bother to respond on rejections, who gives feedback.

Tracking is important. So, beginning any moment now with the first submission of 2018.

Be well, everyone.

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Apparently, I’m Too Political

Apparently, I’m Too Political

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So, online and offline, and more than once each, I’ve been told that I’m getting too political. I also, apparently, though no specific examples have been given to me, occasionally offend someone.

I find the statement more interesting, but they both should be addressed in some way.

As to the ‘too political’, With the government we currently have in the province I live in, the attempted rising of the alt-right in my country, the cover ups, the social issues facing our society and the steadfast refusal of some people to accept some other people as human beings in their own right, I am probably only going to get worse from that of point you, and louder at the same time.

For the second point. if something I post or say offends you, I am, honestly, unlikely to be terribly concerned about that. The act of being offended on its own has very little weight in my eyes and it shouldn’t in yours, either. If you’re offended by something I say or post and want to have a discussion about it, that’s awesome. At least, it’s awesome so long as your intent is to actually have a discussion. I’m happy to engage with opinions backed up by logic and real information. If the extent of your argument is personal attacks and whining, I’m unlikely to take you seriously.

If you’re not interested in discussion, and the extent of the engagement you want to have is you offended me and demand apology, you should probably not bother because you’re not going to get one. You may get a response clarifying the intent of what I said earlier, but you are very, very unlikely to get that apology. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say you won’t.

If your interest in social media is primarily funny memes, cat pictures, and so on, then enjoy it. I like those things to, and I share a few here and there, particularly Star Trek related ones, but, believe it or not, there is more to life than pictures and funny memes, even if they are Star Trek related. Enjoy your distractions. I like them too. But recognize they’re a distraction and that our society has pretty serious issues, and those issues are worth discussing or standing against.

“Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.” (Juvenal, approx. 100 CE)

It probably sounds much better in the original Latin poetic form, but it still strikes true and 1900 years later.

Bread and circuses. Keep the people fed and entertained and you can do whatever you want. We even have leaders who don’t think the bread is necessary and who are circuses, who think that because they’ve gathered to themselves some small amount of support or power that they can do what they want and force us to follow along.

There are people who agree with them, or who let themselves be convinced by the bread and circuses, but sadly for them, fortunately for the rest of us, we still live in a free and open society. As individuals, as people, we have the ability, and even the obligation, to speak out against those distractions and against what we see as wrong.

I have plenty of strong opinions:

People matter more than money.

Might dos not make right.

Fact and opinion are not equal.

Your preconceived biases don’t count as facts.

The science matters.

The world would be a better place without most of the religions currently in it.

Feel free to argue any or all of those, but you’ll need to back up with something more than just, “I don’t like what you said; it offends me.” You are free to not like anything I say or do, and I’m free to not worry over much about it. If I’m getting too political for you, you should probably snooze me, unfollow me, or even so far as to unfriend me.

I don’t post things with the intent to offend, I post with the intent to have share awareness and conversations. That I get surprisingly little conversation is unfortunate, but another symptom of our society, which is is flawed and broken in many ways.

But I firmly believe the overall trend is upward and that things will get better, but only if we are willing to talk to each other rather than yell at each other, and actually work to make things better. There are a lot of things I’m angry at in our society, and I don’t believe I’m the only one. Stay angry, but channel it into something productive. Talk to people.

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Report for August 2018

Writing Report for August 2018

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Switching these to monthly. As we move along, and I have things to talk about other than raw word count, they’ll probably get a bit longer, but for this month, it’s all about getting the words out and moving some of them around.

Accomplishments:

  1. Short Fiction totals two complete stories and one more in progress, plus a flash piece, gaining a total of 11,153 words for the month.
  2. Shrine increased by a total of 35,050 words, bringing it to 83,432 and still not done when it was supposed to come in at 60k. There are about 9k words left in the projection based on the plotting I’ve done, so I’m probably looking at finding a split point for this book. It’s too long for the way the rest of the series works.
  3. Plotting completed for Seven Days a King. Although I don’t expect to actually draft this until sometime next year.
  4. Editing, I’ve finished the 3rd draft pass on Arena to the end of Chapter 21, leaving me 4 chapters and a little less than 8k words to go on this stage. Current word count is 66,105 Expected completion of the 5th of September.
  5. Fractured Unity scene expansions as a secondary project added 3,274 to the total word count.
  6. 12 blog posts
  7. 7 book reviews
  8. 4 journal entries
  9. 1 essay.

Total word count for the month of 69,470, averaging more than 2k per day, which makes me very happy, even though the spread of outliers is pretty wide, from a couple of editing only days where I added a few dozen to several hundred words, to several days well over 3k and one when I actually broke 4k. I’ve also started scribbling 50-150 words at a time of the first scene of Bad Teenage Poetry to scratch the itch it’s making in my brain, and I think I have around 1000 words on paper so far, though I’m not actually counting. I’ll save that for when I transfer it into the keyboard and add it to the total then. With the revised plan, that’s likely to be a while.

Right, revised plan. I made some 2018 and 2019 plan adjustments last week, but the short term remains essentially the same, and that’s what I’m going to look at here in terms of goals for September. Taking those in sort of a zero-to-completion order for long fiction, followed by other work, and finally the publishing side:

  1. Next up on pre-first draft work is plotting for Battlefield, the final book in the Troll World Quartet (Quintet?). I had some good success trying the Snowflake method for Palace, so I think I’m going to work that way again for Battlefield and see how it goes.
  2. With the expansion of Shrine, and possible splitting of the book if I can find the right point to do it and justify it as two distinct stories, I don’t expect to finish the first draft until somewhere around the 10th of September.
  3. Star Trek: Fractured Unity. Looking to complete this transition from script to first draft prose by the end of September, which will actually be a challenge. It’s easier to draft out of whole cloth than it is to start with existing dialogue and build around it. That’s more like editing on steroids.
  4. But if I get there, we’ll start on Palace, the third book in the Troll World Quartet/Quintet, which is fully plotted and I think more tightly than Shrine.
  5. Editing: once Arena has gone through the third draft, which looks like will be by the end of the first week of September, I’m going to spend a few days editing the non-poetry bits of the haiku collection I’m planning.
  6. Once that’s done, I’m moving to the third draft of Hero’s Life, the sequel to Heroes Inc.
  7. Short Fiction: the goal here is to hit 10k per month in short stories. August went well enough in this length that I took 8 days off near the end of the month to get more words into Shrine, so with the number of things I want to finish, I have reasonable confidence here.
  8. Hoping to add a little steam on the short fiction editing side, too, but I’m already feeling like I might be spread a bit too thin in number of things in progress.
  9. Non-fiction, target of 10k for the month here, too. This is a broad-catch bucket taking in blog posts, book reviews, the odd journal entry, and other work that isn’t strictly fiction.
  10. 5 short story submissions.
  11. Small Press/Agent hunt begins by making a list of possibilities.

And while there are other creative pursuits I have on my life list, like I said last week about my writing goals: I need to type faster.

Be well, everyone.

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Lost Hobbies

Lost Hobbies

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Image result for penny blackWhen I was a kid, for a bunch of years, I collected stamps. Lately, I think it’s called. I still have most of the box, having tried twice in adulthood to go back to it, but not since my oldest child was very, very small, and he’s almost 20 now. I used to love it, the detail put into many of them, the old printing processes, the tiny variations that could happen just from some little flick of the machine, things being printed backwards or upside down, stamps from all over the world. I have a couple of boxes full of albums and envelopes. Thousands of stamps. Tens of thousands.

I have a stamp collection, but I don’t collect stamps anymore. I don’t know why, it still seems like it should be interesting to me, but there’s only so much time.

Image result for telescope bausch lombIn my mid-20s until my early 30s, I was seriously into backyard astronomy. I had a decent, if not particularly high-end telescope, and I still haven’t actually, and most clear nights would find me in the backyard, even living in downtown Toronto, trying to see everything I could see. There was a surprising amount in the washed out urban sky. They’re probably still is. When, at the end of 2002, we moved to the small town that we currently still live in, I was very much looking forward to darker skies, but the box that contained all of my telescope lenses somehow went missing during the move. I think it was the only thing we lost during the move, although even at the time I couldn’t remember what else it was packed with. Clearly nothing else I missed.

I wanted to replace the lenses, spent the whole first winter shoveling off the cement pad behind the house that was going to be my personal observatory, but money was tight, and I never quite found the couple of hundred bucks to do it. Somehow, it didn’t occur to me to try to scrape together enough for one good lens and go from there.

I still read things about astronomy, online and in books. I still have that telescope. A few years ago, during a super sale, I bought another telescope, this one with some tracking and a battery-operated motor, hoping to maybe interest my children and it, but I never got any of them in the backyard more than twice, and guessed that that ship had sailed. If I’d started trying with them sooner, it might’ve worked. And, at this point in my life, I can only justify so many activities that don’t involve my kids. The ones left home, that is, and those two are in their mid-teens. That’s starting change as they don’t need me right there as much as they did when they were little, but I still haven’t gotten back to the backyard astronomy in any significant way.

Unlike stamp collecting, however, I still have the desire to. That desire just needs the right focus. It needs to ramp up high enough in me to actually pull one of those telescopes out into the backyard and point it at the sky.

There have been other things over the years, but hobbies come and go, and don’t always sticking in your life. Circumstances and conditions change, and your life changes with them.

At one point I might have considered writing a hobby, even if I aspired to become a published author. I’ve long since stopped thinking that way. Even though I’ve had times in the last few years, stretching weeks or even months at a time, when my primary focus has been on other things—always family, but often career to support that family—writing is still there, and I always come back to it. It’s not a hobby, it’s part of who I am.

I could say something similar about karate. With apologies to Funakoshi-sensei, it may not be my way of life, but it’s an integrated part of my life, and does color how I see many other things, affect how I deal of the things. Having put it that way, maybe shouldn’t apologize. Maybe, in a way, it is my way of life. However I might squint at it, karate is certainly not a hobby. It may have started as one, something fun with my oldest child, for a while, and for a longer while my wife, and for a while my oldest daughter. But they’ve all moved on of the things. For them, karate was a hobby. Me, I might be less than a year away from testing for my third degree black belt. Not that I think I know nearly enough yet, but that will be true as I walk into that grading, whenever it happens to be.

But karate and writing are not hobbies anymore.

Image result for geocachingI think the only actual hobby I have left that I can call a hobby is geocaching, which is done sporadically and at varying frequencies with my youngest daughter. Her interest in it seems to be waning this year, but not all at once and she enjoys it when we go out. My wife enjoys sometimes do, and it’s still a very fun activity for me. Not something that’s going away anytime soon.

Actually, geocaching is certainly my only hobby. My only hobby in a life that has been full of hobbies and interesting pursuits, and maybe it’s the third one that will somehow integrate itself in my life, become part of who I am. Feels that way right now. I can manage to not do it for a while, but I miss it.

Somehow though, I feel like everybody should have at least one hobby, one leisure activity that lets them put aside the stresses of regular life for a little while. I don’t think our society has evolved to the level where that’s possible for everyone yet, but perhaps that’s still coming.

If you have a hobby, enjoy it as much as you can. If you don’t, I hope you find one that suits.

In the meantime, be well, everyone.

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Change of Plans

Change of Plans

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I’m trying hard to make a go of the writing thing right now, and while that’s only been going on for a few weeks so far, I have hopes. Granted, I’ve recently taken a new job at work that demands more of my time and ratchets up the level of responsibility dramatically, home life I think is working very well. My oldest is living on his own now, and in another city, and my daughters are both of an age where they like to know I’m around, but don’t necessarily need to be in the same room I’m in. So, in among regular chores and that the house list and other responsibilities, I do have a little time here and there. Which I’m completely taking advantage of.

In the last week or so, I have posted about both the overall plan, and the project list. Both of those should be considered fluid, and I have the right to exercise any time changes to the plan we forecasting what I intend or expect. During a morning commute last week, just after finishing the middle section of the second last scene of the short story I’m dictating, I made the decision to exercise that right and adjust the plan.

I have been working on both the third draft of Arena and the first draft of Shrine in the past several weeks, the first two books in the Troll War, I mean Troll World quartet. Notice the “slip” there. I recently decided on World over War because the War things slowly lead up to doesn’t actually happen until the last book. I don’t want to give the impression that the other three books are just build up towards that, because they are each an adventure in their own right. Well, the first one certainly is, I’m working for the second one to be, and the third is plotted that way as well. While the stakes are necessarily different in each story, they’re not necessarily any more life threatening from the view of the principal characters, although I feel like I’m ratcheting things up in every single book for my primary protagonist, and they get wider ranging.

Completely beside the point.

The decision I’ve made is that I’m not going to do the final editing pass on Arena shortly after I finish the third draft. Added to that, I’m not going to do any editing of Shrine until both Palace and Battlefield are both drafted. And Battlefield isn’t even plotted yet, much less outlined. These books are short enough, probably all falling into the 65 to 85,000 word range things once done, that I think things might work better story as if I do most of the editing as a group. While they represent four separate stories, those stories do form a larger arc for the protagonist.

I am still going to pick up and finished the first draft of Fractured Unity right after I finish the first draft of Shrine, the old plan of then moving on to drafting Bad Teenage Poetry is gone now. I’m moving Palace first and Battlefield right on its heels (which means I need to plot and outline Battlefield early in the fall). Once they’ve all hit at least the end of the first draft, I’ll let the whole cycle rest for several months while I work on other things before starting revision notes and second drafts for the second third and fourth books as a group. Eventually, I’ll do the final, read it aloud draft for the whole quartet together.

One tiny little decision, which changed my whole plan for the remainder of 2018 and all of 2019.

And that’s okay, because I think I like it better this way.

Not that I can’t change my mind again if I want to.

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Report for the week ending 19 August 2018

Writing Report for the week ending 19 August 2018

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This is the last one of these I’m going to do weekly for a while. After this one, I’m going to switch to doing one on or about the first of the month, covering what I managed to accomplish the previous month and the targets for the new month. Again, the objective is to keep me honest in my goals, but I want to get as many words into active projects as possible.

I made some mid-term plan adjustments last week, but the short term remains essentially the same, and that’s what I’m going to look at here.

Accomplishments:

  1. I’m within a few hundred words of finishing “Space Broccoli”, which relaly needs a new title. It’s currently sitting at just shy of 6,000 words, and I actually expect to finish it today.
  2. I’ve put 8,980 words into Shrine, taking it to 66,008 but closing the gap to the end of the story by only about 3,000 words, so around 15,000 to go, which will make it more than 20,000 words longer than the first draft of Arena. The sequence I’m working on now introduces an important character and a whole new culture to the protagonist. She doesn’t have time to absorb most of what she’s seeing, but I can’t completely gloss it over. Some of it needs to make it to the reader and some of it will inform actions and personality of that important character I mentioned.
  3. Editing, I’ve finished the 3rd draft pass on Arena to the end of Chapter 13, leaving me 12 chapters and a little less than 26,000 words to go on this stage.
  4. In odd moments, I’ve started a little bit of scene expansion in Fractured Unity, which began its life as an audio drama that I’m shifting into a novel for the experience of doing so. I’ve added a little more than 800 words here, taking two dialogue-only scenes into bare bones prose.
  5. 3 blog posts.
  6. 3 book reviews.

Total word count for the week of 16,201, averaging more than 2k per day, which makes me very happy. I’ve also started scribbling 50-150 words at a time of the first scene of Bad Teenage Poetry to scratch the itch it’s making in my brain.

I’ll go into details on what I’ve done to the plan for this year and next year, but it’s worth noting what I’ve got on the list for the more immediate future after each fo the current projects are complete:

  1. With the expansion of the current sequence in Shrine, I don’t think that it will be done by the end of August, but I think it will only be a few days into September before I get to the end of the first draft.
  2. Next Long Fiction: Star Trek: Fractured Unity. While I’m making a tiny bit of progress there, keeping the 1,000 word per day goal for long fiction, it’s still going to be the lion’s share of work there for September.
  3. After that: Palace, the third book in the Troll World Quartet.
  4. Editing: once Arena has gone through the third draft, I’m switching over to Hero’s Life, the sequel to Heroes Inc.
  5. Short Fiction: 10k or so per month in short stories is the target going forward. I’m already almost there for August. After “Space Broccoli”, I have four more I specifically want to finish, the longest of which is likely to be a 10k novelette, with the rest falling in the 3-6k range based on the rough plots I have in my head. Then, I’ll either dig into the archives for other thing I’ve left hanging or start on any of a variety of new ideas I’ve got.

And while there are other creative pursuits I have on the list, like I said last week about my writing goals: I need to type faster.

Be well, everyone.

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Project Status Overview

Project Status Overview

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So there’s definitely something in my makeup somewhere that I need to channel better. I like to work on multiple things at a time which, once some kind of equilibrium has been achieved, makes me just as productive as someone who works at the same rate but only focuses on one thing at a time.

But I also seem to have issues sharing things when I’ve finally take them to a final draft status. That certainly needs to be fixed.

Between those two idiosyncrasies, I thought it might be interesting to list all of the book-length projects I have and in what stage of completion.

Some reading this might ask the question: what the frack is wrong with you? Others will pick a different question: why are you spending writing time on a blog post when you have a list this size? Both questions are valid. And we won’t talk about the sheer volume of short fiction I have lying around that I should do something with. We also won’t mention more than in passing that I’m still free to have other ideas.

 

Final Draft Complete

  • Graceland: Science Fiction, Collection, 83k words
  • Heroes Inc (The Citizen Book 1): Superhero, 73k words
  • Skip to My Luu: Science Fiction, 87k words
  • Ancient Runes: Science Fiction, 85k words
  • Universal Destiny: Science Fiction, 77k words
  • Scattered On the Wind: Science Fiction, YA, 72k words
  • Draugr Rising: Fantasy, 65k words

 

Third Draft Complete

  • Actually nothing here at the moment, but that should change shortly.

 

Second Draft Complete

  • The Undead: Fantasy/Horror, Collection, 96k words
  • Arena (Troll World 1): Fantasy, YA, 63k words
  • Hero’s Life (The Citizen Book 2): Superhero, 62k words.

 

First Draft Complete

  • Dragon Summer: Fantasy, 108k words. My first attempt at a novel. No one will be permitted to see this until sometime long after my death.
  • The Godhead Book 1: Fantasy, 127k words. Has a couple of significant issues I know how to fix.
  • The Godhead Book 2: Fantasy, 104k words. Needs to be torn apart and rebuilt almost from the ground up, keeping the basic plot and a few fun parts.
  • Warforge: Caledonia: Science Fiction, 128k words. Some adjustments needed for the POV arcs to come together more smoothly.

 

First Draft in Progress or Stalled

  • Shrine (Troll World 2): Fantasy, YA, 74k words estimated. Primary project.
  • Fractured Unity: Science Fiction, ST Fanfic, 50k words estimated. Currently 26k words. Next project in line.
  • Stoneweaver: Fantasy, 52k words and stalled with significant problem.
  • Dreams of Freedom (Alishran 1): Fantasy, 22k words and stalled.
  • Iron Jack: Fantasy, 13k words and the plot needs to be rebuilt.

 

Outlined (Has 5-10k words of structure and character built)

  • Bad Teenage Poetry: Historical, 75k words estimated.
  • Fallen Heroes (The Citizen Book 3): Superhero, 60k words estimated.
  • Seven Days a King: Science Fiction, 60k words estimated.
  • Converging Destiny (Universal Destiny book 2): Science Fiction, 60k words estimated.
  • Palace (Troll World 3): Fantasy, YA, 60k words estimated.

 

Plotted (Has 1-2k of structure built)

  • Speculative Emotions: SF/F, Collection.
  • Periodicity: SF, Collection.
  • Unified Destiny (Universal Destiny book 3): Science Fiction, 60k words estimated.
  • Battlefield (Troll World 4): Fantasy, YA, 60k words estimated.
  • Kami Falling (Draugr Rising sequel): Fantasy, 60k words estimated.
  • My Cousin Hans: Historical, 90k words estimated.
  • Strewn Across the Stars (Scattered on the Wind sequel): Science Fiction, 65k words estimated.
  • ISIRTA: 50 Plus Years Later on the Other Side of the Pond: Non-Fiction, 70k words estimated.

 

Conceived (has less than 1k of structure and concept built)

  • The Godhead Book 3: Fantasy
  • Warforge Books 2 & 3: Science Fiction
  • The Crossword Man: Contemporary
  • Big Hair Day: Historical
  • Peacebringers Trilogy: Science Fiction
  • Alishran 2 & 3: Fantasy

 

Glimmering (has a paragraph or less for concept)

  • Warforge Book 4: Science Fiction
  • Green Wars: Contemporary
  • Rain Falls Daily: Contemporary
  • Border Guards: Fantasy
  • Consigliere: Science Fiction
  • Neanderthal: Science Fiction
  • Seven Cities: Fantasy
  • Stoneweaver: Fantasy
  • Tashiik Dreams: Science Fiction
  • The Sergeant’s Legacy: Historical
  • High Guard Trilogy: Science Fiction
  • Napoleon’s Unicorns: Fantasy
  • Wellington’s Griffins: Fantasy
  • Baby’s First Year: Contemporary
  • In Living Memory 1 & 2: Science Fiction
  • The Library of Time: Science Fiction
  • The Beauty of Weapons: Science Fiction
  • Shadow Maidens: Fantasy

So what is wrong with me and why aren’t I working on something listed here? Excuse me while I change files.

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Report for the two weeks ending 12 August 2018

Writing Report for the two weeks ending 12 August 2018

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I may do a couple more of these weekly just to help establish the habit, but I think over the longer term monthly is better. It’s a nice way for me to catch up, but I want to get as many words into active projects as possible.

During my vacation week, I built the basic set of targets, making things concrete-ish beginning August 2nd but not going beyond the end of the week at that point. Since coming home, I’ve fleshed out a real plan on multiple levels (as suggested last week), and thought I’d list what I’ve managed since starting to use the keyboard for its intended purpose (in my view) again.

Accomplishments:

  1. Finished “Replaceable”, with the first draft coming in at 6,589 words. I’m rather pleased with the result and will probably do the editing job on it sooner rather than later. It uses a difficult theme, but I think builds well to a mostly satisfying ending. ‘Mostly’ because there’s at one aspect of that ending I’d like to make a little more subtle.
  2. Also in the area of short fiction, I added 503 words just yesterday to a story I left hanging a couple of years ago with the unlikely working title of “Space Broccoli”.
  3. I’ve put 10,611 words into Shrine, taking it to 57,628 and with an estimated 18,000 to go it’s going to come in at more than 15,000 words longer than the first draft of Arena. There are some sequences early in the book that can probably be shortened. I have the idea that all four books in the set will be of similar lengths, but I’m not too married to that. The story length for each will be what’s needed.
  4. And speaking of Arena, I’ve done the 3rd draft pass up to the middle of Chapter 10 (quite a long chapter with 4 separate scenes), which puts me about 4k words short of the book’s midpoint by  word count. The third draft is where I make sure that everything says what I want it to say, which I talked about in a more detail last year. (Reference the old post on what each draft means to me).
  5. Completely finished the scene-level plot on 7 Days a King. This isn’t the next long fiction project to go, but I’m glad to have the rough plot done.
  6. 6 blog posts (counting this one)
  7. 4 book reviews
  8. My first journal entry in almost 10 months.

A total word count of 27,723 or about 5k more than the whole year before this two week period. All in all, I’m pretty happy with that.

Significant projects on the horizon:

  1. Next Long Fiction: Star Trek: Fractured Unity. I’m a little over 25k words into something that I think will wind up at about 50k.
  2. After that: Bad Teenage Poetry, which is not speculative fiction and takes place in the mid-1980s.
  3. Editing: once Arena has gone through the last two drafts, I’m going back to Hero’s Life, the sequel to Heroes Inc. Fallen Heroes, the third book in the trilogy, has scene level detail plotted and is on the draft schedule for early next year, I hope.
  4. Short Fiction: 10k or so per month in short stories is the target going forward. After “Space Broccoli”, I have four more I specifically want to finish (none of which is more than 800 words in yet) before I dig into the archives or start on any of a variety of new ideas I’ve got.

And there are other creative pursuits in the offing as well, things that are part of my overall life goals but not necessarily connected direction to my writing goals. As far as the writing goals go, I need to type faster.

Be well, everyone.

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Cottage Life Day 7 – Big Adventure Day

Cottage Life Day 7 – Big Adventure Day

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Or, as I’m also referring to it as: “Trip to the Little Lake on Big Island in a Slightly Bigger Lake”. Another excerpt from last week’s vacation.

Said trip involved:

  1. 10-minute drive to the appropriate boat launch,
  2. 5-kilometre paddle by kayak to the place where I tied the boat,
  3. Safely extract myself from the kayak without drowning or breaking any bones and make sure it’s secured so I’m not stranded,
  4. 40-metre climb that also covered about 20 metres in vertical distance,
  5. 25 metres worth of horizontal-ish bushwhacking without the benefit of a trail or path.

Destination:

On a map (blue circle is the boat launch, red circle is where I stood at the tiny lake on Big Island:

Repeat in reverse to get back to the cottage.

Why, you ask?

To answer that, I’ll ask another question: have you ever wanted to stand somewhere no one has ever stood before?

This is a sparsely populated lake in a sparsely populated area. The island is up a branch of the lake that doesn’t seem to attract much fishing or boating traffic. It’s also completely undeveloped and I saw no evidence of human traffic at all while I was there. The only reason I knew the tiny lake was even there was because I was looking at the geocaching map before we left for our vacation, thinking about what caches we might like to get while we were in the area, and I happened to notice the isolated spot.

No, I’m not fooling myself into thinking that no one has ever been to that tiny lake before. This part of Ontario has been inhabited, if lightly, for thousands of years. The Madawaska River has had cottages on it for decades, and there were settlers in the area by 1800. There are people who live here year round and there are plenty of occasional/summer dwellers, too.

But it’s fairly well off the beaten track and I’d guess the number of people who have seen this spot is very small.

Yes, I left a cache there.

Maybe someone else will want to stand where few people ever have. If they’re a geocacher, they can sign the log book while they’re there. If not, it was a lot of work to get there and they can still enjoy the feeling of accomplishment to take in that quiet scene.

Be well, everyone.

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The New Plan

The New Plan

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So I used a vacation week to try to kick start my writing again. That was after a little bit of reading things I left in progress to focus on the primary career for almost 6 months.

Okay, twelve months.

Fine, it’s been almost 2 years since I got any major writing done.

There have been brief periods of productivity, but they never seem to last very long. A couple of weeks, maybe a month or so at a stretch. Maybe this time I can hold the focus for a while longer. It’s unlikely I’ll get back to the peak writing volume I managed by dictating during my long commutes in 2014 and 2015, but I have a lot of stories I want to tell, and, not to look too closely at the technological curve, it’s not lost on me that I may be as much as half done, or even a little more.

Because of the way my brain works, there needs to be a plan. Actually, by preference, there needs to be several plans: writing, publishing, marketing.

The basic writing plan, with short and long projects, editing goals, plotting, and so on, is the big one. It has daily word count goals for book length projects, short fiction projects, and non-fiction projects

The publishing plan will involve both long and short projects via e-book channels through Amazon and possibly Kobo markets, Watt Pad, potentially Smashwords, and an e-book store hosted on my own website, plus hard copies built through Create Space. It will also involve a submission plan for short work, and an agent or publisher hunt for at least one longer work per year.

Marketing will involve social media, blog posts, contests, giveaways, price leaders once I have enough work in the wild, and probably other things I haven’t thought of yet.

In the tradition of Peter Urs Bender (who first introduced me to the concept), all of these will be SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time Bound. Of immediate note is that the social networking part of things will have nothing to do with the number of followers, but rather the number of posts per day, week, etc. That’s something I can control the quantity and quality of.

I’m essentially building these plans on five timelines: the rest of 2018, one year, three year, five-year, and ten year. At this stage, my builds contain the remainder of 2018, and then 2019 with detailed monthly goals and specific projects picked, though with some wiggle room and I can always re-forecast at will. Each of the longer term plans builds in specific projects (long, short, non-fiction) for 80% of the annual word count goal. The remaining 20% gives me space for overflow (because my expectations of what the final word count will be on something are often 10-15% short of what reality turns out to be) and to work on things that have occurred to me in between. Yes, that actually does mean that I have enough novel ideas to carry me through to the end of 2028 on that scale without adding any new ones, which seems unlikely.

There’s a similar plan on the publishing side. Although, the plan for the remainder of 2018 is essentially to learn about how things work again: formatting lessons, self-publishing concepts, physical layouts, potential sources for cover art, and so on. This is reading and experimentation for actually diving in next year. For 2019, I have several novel length projects I have elected to self publish, and one I have elected to attempt to either find an agent for more find a standard small press publisher for. There are also a handful of Novella and novelettes projects I feel are worth publishing as standalone’s, and some Star Trek fanfiction I wouldn’t mind other people reading, though these will be exclusively on Watt Pad and a blog I’m building for the purpose. Try not to laugh too hard, but I put it just as much art and effort into my fanfic as I do my regular fiction. This first group is all (with one exception) actually ready for other readers, it’s all Star Trek based, and it’s all set in the original series era, but I have rough-plotted or ideas for at least half a dozen stories in the Next Generation era as well. For the shorter tales, I like to try to focus on characters who didn’t always get a lot of screen time. Regulars, but not always principal regulars.

The 2018 remainder marketing plan is similar to the publishing plan: learn. Going along with that, I’m working to reestablishing my presence as an author on Twitter, and Facebook. I’m also investigating the idea of adding a third social media platform as determined appropriate. Right now, that’s looking like YouTube for readings, and I’m not adverse to returning to my love of podcasting, either. Additionally, I’ve roughed out a plan of regular blog posts, 2 to 5 per week, depending on other events.

What can I say, I’m a planner. Lots to do, lots to get done. And it’s very early days.

So, I need to get writing.

Be well, everyone.

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