• Publishing,  Writing

    Serial Changes

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    “Traditionally”, at least for the last few months, I’ve typically had three serials running at once. One novel, one shorter work, and one Star Trek fan fiction.

    I wrapped up the most recent short piece (“Behind False Doors”) a couple of years ago and the most recent fanfic (“Subsolar Whispers”) last week.

    And I haven’t started the next on in either sequence, leaving just the novel (Heroes Inc.) currently running.

    I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the serial thing and what my plans should be for publishing over the next couple of years. A novel can serialize over a long time. Months, really, or as much as a year depending on how I decide to release it. Fanfic, well, you kind of have to release it for free. It’s sort of built into the equation when you’re playing in someone else’s universe without official permission.

    But I’m not sure the shorter stuff is really right for a serial presentation. At least, not for anything less than about novella length (SFWA suggests this is 17.5k words). Most of what I’ve serialized in short fiction has been well under the 15k mark. The one exception was a short novel on its own, not as long as my typical novel-length. If I break these up into small enough parts to serialize more than a few weeks, those pieces might be too small to give a satisfying read as part of a larger story.

    So for the time being, I’m only going to be serializing a novel and whatever bit of fanfic reaches the front of the line. Sulu is next up in a novelette that’s a little shy of 10,000 words. After that, I’ve got a novel ready to go, just lacking a cover.

    Things may change, but that’s where I’m at right now.

    And I’ll go back to the regularly scheduled Star Trek Sunday next week. After all, I’m sure everyone wants to know my opinion on Star Trek: Picard.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Publishing,  Writing

    2020 Q2 Writing Overview

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    Q2 being April, May, and June or all but about two weeks of the time my industry has been shut down (so far) by the pandemic and all but about a week since my job was classified as unnecessary. As a result, my production levels have been far higher than they would have been if I were still out of the house or dealing with work stuff for 60 hours per week.

    Setting that aside, it’s been a good quarter. A very good quarter. Lots of boxes checked, lots of words forged, lots of words polished. On a raw wordcount basis, I averaged almost 1700 words per day and did not miss a single day of production. A few of those days had very small word counts as my primary work those days was tweaking a final draft, but the numbers didn’t break into 4 digits consistently until I started drafting again.

    I did a big post on 2020’s goals early in the year and I’m going to try to measure Q2 against those a bit, noting where I’ve adjusted things.

    First, on the writing side:

    1. Plot novel. Basic goal = 3, Stretch = +2, Super Stretch = +2. Q2 = 2, bringing us to 2 for 2020 so far.
    2. Draft novel. Basic goal = 0. Stretch = 1, Super Stretch = +1. Q2 = 0, bringing us to 0 for 2020 so far. So right on track.
    3. Short Stories. Basic goal = 12, Stretch = +3, Super Stretch = +3. Q2 = 5, bringing us to 5 for 2020 so far. I didn’t actually start drafting until deep into May. Two of these are fairly long novellas.
    4. Flash Stories. Basic goal = 12, Stretch = +3, Super Stretch = +3. Q2 = 2, bringing us to 2 for 2020 so far.
    5. Non-fiction book. Stretch = 1. Q2 = 0, bringing us to 0 for 2020 so far.
    6. Blog posts. Basic goal = 100, Stretch = +25, Super Stretch = +25. Q2 = 64, bringing us to 85 for 2020 so far.
    7. ST Audio Script editing. Basic goal = 8. Q2 = 0, and I’ve actually dropped this goal, moving straight into converting these to prose. I don’t expect to ever produce these, though they remain a wonderful idea in my mind.
    8. Novel editing. Basic goal = 2, Stretch = +1, Super Stretch = +1. Q2 = 2.5, bringing us to 3.0 for 2020 so far. I’m looking at this on an editing-pass basis. Post-drafting needs 4 different kinds of editing passes, so I’m counting any post-drafting pass on any novel-length story as 0.25 and taking a total.
    9. Story Editing. Basic goal = 12, Stretch = +3, Super Stretch = +3. Q2 = 6, bringing us to 6 for 2020 so far.
    10. Fanfic novel editing. Basic goal = 1. Q2 = 1, bringing us to 1 for 2020 so far.

    Next, Publishing:

    1. Agent/Publisher Hunt, Novel. Basic goal = 1. Q2 = 0, and, as I talked about a couple of weeks ago, I’ve suspended this goal indefinitely. I’m more and more convinced that pursuing traditional publishing at novel length isn’t worth the time and effort for anyone who hasn’t already made it big there.
    2. Story Submissions. Basic goal = 50, Stretch = +10, Super Stretch = +15. Q2 = 0, bringing us to 0 for 2020 so far. This was always intended as a goal for the latter half of 2020, so that I haven’t made any progress here yet doesn’t worry me. If I’m still putting a zero here on the 1st of October, that’s a different matter.
    3. Poetry collection. Basic goal = 1, Super Stretch = +1. Q2 = 1, bringing us to 1 for 2020 so far.
    4. Indie Novel. Basic goal = 2, Stretch = +1, Super Stretch = 1. Q2 = 1, bringing us to 1 for 2020 so far.
    5. Indie Collection. Basic goal = 1. Q2 = 1, bringing us to 1 for 2020 so far.
    6. Indie short. Basic goal = 6, Stretch = +3, Super Stretch = +3. Q2 = 6, bringing us to 6 for 2020 so far.
    7. Fan Fiction stories. Basic goal = 4. Q2 = 1, bringing us to 3 for 2020 so far.
    8. Fan Fiction Novel. Basic goal = 1. Q2 = 0, bringing us to 0 for 2020 so far.
    9. Fan Fiction Collection. Basic goal = 1.

    And, for the first time, I’m going to touch on some of the marketing goals. Most of the ones I’m willing to reveal revolve around consistency of posting to my chosen platforms (which I’m still open to revision on). The blog technically belongs in this category, too. I count the words as I draft like with everything else, but a blog post isn’t considered complete until it actually posts. Considering my performance on the blog since I’ve been off, Facebook and Twitter goals have been really easy to hit.

    1. Facebook. Basic goal = 3x/week, Stretch = 4x/week, Super Stretch = Daily. Q2 = Daily on average. I get a little interaction on Facebook, but I’m only just getting to the point now where I point it out to people who aren’t already there.
    2. Twitter. Basic goal = 3x/week, Stretch = 5x/week, Super Stretch = Daily. Q2 = Averaging Daily. I suck at Twitter in the last few years. It says so in my Twitter bio. I’m not really there to be interactive at this point. Blog posts and serials get announced here, and I’ll spend a few minutes here and there making sure things are clean, but not a lot more. The way Twitter works these days, I’m not sure it’s a useful platform for the author who’s early in their career other than as a presence.
    3. Instagram. Basic goal = 2x/week, Stretch = 3x/week. Q2 = 2x/week, but just barely. Instagram is different. Instagram is harder. Instagram is showing there’s a life beyond your writing, that you’re not just a writer but a human being. In my case, we’re mostly talking about pets and the occasional household project, with the odd book cover thrown in.
    4. Youtube. Basic goal = 1x/month, Super Stretch = every two weeks. Q2 = 4 posts in three months. Not exactly regular, this is an experiment for me. I think, because of the shutdown, live performances and readings are becoming more common, but I also think unless you’re super-well known, those need to be short. My experiments are two-fold in this vein: a video podcast to stay under ten minutes (The WAL) and short, intense poetry readings that will have a hard barrier of two minutes. Lots more to come here.

    As a small bonus, I’ll reveal one of the secret goals. There will, very shortly, be a monthly newsletter. This is currently deep in design phase, but apparently is a “must have” for an author. I consider this an experiment, too, but it will be a longer term one.

    Q3 will probably bring a very different normal world at some point, and I probably won’t have quite so much time on the far side of whatever that normal happens to be. But until then, I’m going to press ahead as hard as I can.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Publishing,  Writing

    June Writing Accomplishments

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    I’m not saying “quick” this month since the quick version for May still turned out to be 600 words. The overall breakdown for Q2 will follow tomorrow and look at how things match up in terms of goals I set as well, but June was a great month, the best this year, and with a word count comparable to a couple of my best months ever early last year when just about all I was doing was pounding out first draft fiction in every spare moment.

    On the writing side, and note that I’m typically working on at least two things at a time, one drafting and one editing:

    1. Pride of Andor 1st Draft – This was the first thing I finished in June and something I started in May, the conversion of three episodes of a Star Trek audio drama I’m unlikely ever to produce into a novella, the first draft of which comes in at 24,419 words.
    2. Fallen Heroes 3rd Draft. Third book in The Citizen trilogy, my not-quite traditional superhero stories.
    3. Basic Plotting – Altered Hamlet. Which will need an actual working title at some point if I’m going to write it. This involved reducing each scene in Hamlet to as few sentences as possible to capture the action and then changing every single one of those scenes to work into what I’m seeing as a slightly less tragic secondary world fantasy story.
    4. Warforge 1 – Pedersen’s Story 3rd Draft. Second of the first Warforge triads. Telling the story of the attempted recapture of a human colony from an alien enemy. This one from the POV of the Captain of a brand new ship of a class that no one respects.
    5. Star Trek Book/Comic/Merch Notes. I won’t give a lot of detail here. This is part of a collection of things for an overarching idea I’ve been kicking around since late 2014, the Year of Trek. Eventual details will be forthcoming, but this piece involved impressions on selected Star Trek books, comic books, games, and merchandising attempts over the decades.
    6. Big Hair Day Final Draft. Yup. This one is done, more or less. Part memoir, part historical document, part wish-fulfillment, and all coming of age in the 1980s.
    7. Interrupted Shore Leave 1st Draft – another audio script conversion, this one working out to 27,005 words in the first draft. Part of what I’m considering as “Batch 2” of my TOS fanfic.
    8. Additional (completed) short stories consisted of two flash pieces this month:
      1. “1986”. 471 words of the unnamed protagonist trying to figure out why time travel isn’t as cool as they thought it would be in spite of picking the best year ever to explore.
      1. “Time Loop” – which, in spite of the title, is probably not a time travel story, or even SF. 342 words.
    9. A total of 29 blog posts published counting this one. I noted yesterday that I’d gone 25 days in a row. Today makes 26. One of those days had two posts, which is not something I’m likely to do very often.

    And talking about publishing, I have three things basically ready to go which just need to be uploaded, and that means I need to decide how, or if, to stagger them a little, depending on whether I want them to look like they happened all at once. Probably, all three will drop across the first week or so of July:

    1. The Undead: More Than Just Brains and Hauntings – although it has those, too. This was supposed to happen earlier in the month, but the beautiful cover my oldest daughter helped me with suggested a horror anthology to me. And while there are a couple of stories that straddle the line, this is an exploration of themes and ideas using undead creatures in Fantasy and Science Fiction settings. This was supposed to happen in about the middle of June, but after I decided the cover needed redoing, I also decided that the internal structure of the book needed an overhaul. I like it much better now.
    2. Haiku – Yes, I finally decided to do this. It’s not a secret that I write poetry, but I have regular love affairs with haiku. This has a hundred of my favourites in it and the cover image was actually taken by me of a lilac tree I drove past five days a week for 11½ years.
    3. “Common Ground” is the shortest thing I’ve yet put out as its own e-book, and I don’t feel like I’d go much shorter than this without adding something else to the files. The story originally appeared in a small-press anthology in 2011. I’m still fond of it, and hope other people might be, too.

    Overall, a very good month. Stay tuned for the Q2 summary tomorrow, then I’ll talk about non-writing stuff for a few days.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Publishing

    I Think I’ve figure out my E-book Pricing Structure

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    After extensive study of far too many recommendations and analyses, plus examining what far too many Indie authors are actually doing when it comes to e-books, I’ve come up with a pricing strategy that I think works for me. Looking at the market overall and wanting to provide perceived value for money spent for the reader, I’ve come up with something that’s essentially based on story length, or length of the total fiction text in the volume.

    It also incorporates a couple of thoughts I have and that I’ve slowly learned appear to be backed up by people who actually know what they’re talking about.

    1. Giving away your work for free is a short-term gimmick. If you get something for free, you tend to value it less. It also helps drive the expectation in some quarters that books should be free. Save this for one-off exciting moments.
    2. The lower price points – $0.99 to $2.99 should be generally reserved for shorter works or short-term sales.
    3. Math is relevant. You need to calculate royalty rates and make comparisons.
    4. Where is the book in a series?
    5. Don’t mess with the prices constantly.
    6. Genre matters.

    Much has been written by many people about e-book pricing. I’m not really going to add to that discussion in any meaningful way and I don’t even vaguely have the experience to make recommendations to anyone else.

    The point of this post is more that I’ve figured out something that makes sense and works for me. I’m not actually going to share what I’ve come up with as a set of price points, because those don’t matter if you’re looking to set your own and if you take a quick cruise through my listings on Amazon, it probably won’t be too hard to figure out.

    Whether it’s the right gradation or not, it seems to fit nicely with what the market is actually doing, adjusted for what I’m looking at as the medium-term place I’d like to occupy in it. I plan to revisit the structure I’ve worked out in a year or so to see where I’m sitting then, but I probably won’t play with prices much in the meantime.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Publishing,  Writing

    What if I Change My Mind?

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    I’m not sure when it became a bad thing for people to change their minds in the light of new information or an evolving situation. If you look back at things, are you likely to hold the same views on everything at forty as you did at twenty? Seems unlikely. The world is different, the things that surround you are different, and you’ve had twice as much life experience so you’re different.

    So what have I changed my mind on today?

    Pursuing traditional publishing at novel-length as a productive use of my time.

    I had been working on the route where I’m pursuing both routes, independent and traditional, but the work/reward ratio doesn’t look like it’s worthwhile anymore on the traditional side.

    Yes, it can still be done, and I think that I can probably do it, given time, energy, and persistence, but I’ve slowly come to the realization, watching as successful traditional authors slowly (or quickly) divorce themselves from traditional publishing, and as some authors never take that route in the first place, that I don’t think it’s worth the time commitment for me.

    There are a lot of arguments, a lot of things you can look at that have brought me to this decision. The way advances are done. The rewrite process at major publishers (yes, I’m going with anecdotal horror stories here, but they’re fairly widespread). The contraction of the publishing industry and slow gathering of power into a small handful of big companies who are all struggling with severely outdated business models. The way authors’ contracts are frequently written. That it’s somehow more cost effective for big publishers to sign someone to a 1-3 book contract and then replace them with someone else signed to a 1-3 book contract if they aren’t instantly as popular as Stephen King. The length of time, and number of editing passes, between your final draft and actual publication. That you can only write what they want for what they think the market (that they force the shape of) wants right now.

    It all comes down to one thing, though: the traditional publishing industry is about publishers, not authors.

    Seems kind of obvious when it’s put that bluntly.

    So the question becomes, why should I expend the effort to break into an industry that isn’t going to work for me no matter how hard I work for it?

    It’s not all that way, of course. I’m talking about Big Publishing. But there aren’t that many publishers at that second tier, that middle level anymore and it’s a hard market for them. They’re also getting the same level of submissions as big publishing houses and so get to publish only the best of what they like, which is good, but the level of competition means there are a lot of great stories that should get published and don’t.

    The short-fiction side of the industry is bubbling and thriving and expanding. Sure, there are a lot of short-lived publications, but there’s also never a lack of great short fiction available. I’m not abandoning short fiction submissions, but it hasn’t been a focus of mine for several years. I’m turning back towards it in the second half of this year, though, because I’ve never lost my love of short fiction, reading or writing.

    But I’m really talking about novel-length work here, where the indie route means I have complete creative control over the entire process from the initial scribbled idea to the final release of the e-book and even paperback design.

    And sure, that means I’ve had to learn how to design my own covers and do my own layouts and learn new software and build a social media presence and blog effectively. Sure, it means I have to keep learning and relearning all of those things, over and over again so I keep getting better at them. So what? Learning stuff makes me happy, too. I’m investing the time into bettering myself and my skills instead of rewriting the same book over and over again until it bears only a passing resemblance to what I originally committed to the keyboard and is ready for publication by someone’s definition who’s never even met me.

    The ultimate result is probably that I get to write a lot more stories, and that’s kind of an important part of things for me, too. I have a lot of stories I want to tell. For 2020, I’m in catch up mode for revising and editing. Honestly, that will probably stretch into 2021, too, since I have a lot of stuff I’ve drafted in the last few years and not edited, and I have a lot of stuff I have edited that I haven’t done anything with. If everything I currently have at between 1st and final draft that I haven’t published were to release at the rate of 1 book per month (not even looking at short fiction), I can get to Spring 2022 before things that I’m currently drafting get to the front of the line. And then there are all the things I have planned.

    I have a lot of stories to tell, and I’ve figured out that it really isn’t that important to me to get them published traditionally. I don’t think I can live long enough for that to happen, anyway.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Publishing,  Writing

    Evolving Phases of the Indie Plan

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    I’m a planner. Have we talked about that before?

    It’s probably fairly obvious from how much I enjoy writing about my monthly and yearly goals and plans, and how things are going with them. It goes deeper than that, of course.

    But so do the plans themselves.

    I’m moving a bit away from the traditional publishing goals I’d originally set (more on that on a later, but not too much later, day), and deeper into the indie goals. Accordingly, I have a plan.

    Actually, I have a plan that’s been modified to suit vision that no longer includes traditional publishing at novel length (again, more another day). That vision may need some adjustments here and there depending a lot on the outside world and commitments that have to be met to support my family. It’s a bit fluid. Almost everything is when looked at in the right light.

    But there is an overall plan

    By that plan, my last short e-book means I’ve completed Phase 1 (of 6, and that number can easily change based on life and success levels). Phase 1 was the most straight forward of the phases, involving a set of benchmarks to hit:

    • 8 Short Stories released
    • 4 Novels or Collections released
    • Updates to my Author Social Media Accounts
    • Blogging – steady my blogging to average 3 posts per week
    • Website Update – a fresh look

    While I’m not entirely happy with the website update (posts to Facebook are pulling random pictures from my released books instead of from the posts themselves which I think has something to do with the new theme but haven’t spent a lot of time trying to figure it out yet), the rest is where I want it to be and I can start upping the game. From here, I more or less break things into two basic categories: Production and Presence.

    Phase 2:

    • Production = the key metric here is more about continuing production. Yes, I’ve got numbers on all the categories
      • Novel/Collection = 6 total or 3/yr for two calendar years
      • Short = 12 total or 6/yr for two calendar years
      • Poetry Collection = 1
    • Presence = the objective here is to have a voice across multiple platforms and media. This is not just marketing as I think that most people get frustrated or irritated when bombarded with desperate pleas to buy stuff. Announcements and links are only part of things. Bits of my life are involved here, too, and bits of the world at large.
      • Social Media = specific weekly post counts for my targeted Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. I’m not 100% convinced that any or all of these are the right focus, but they seem to be the common wisdom at the moment. I’m particularly not convinced about Twitter anymore and I’m more and more interested in Youtube.
      • Blogging = maintain at the 3 posts per week level
      • Newsletter = apparently, “you have to have one”. I think I agree, and I’m working at figuring out the service I like best.
      • Podcast = prep work for a Phase 3 launch. Aside from the fact that I’ve wanted to do this for a while, I’m feeling the gentle pressure from several friends to hear me read on a regular basis. Audio production skills needed, so something I have to work on.

    I’m actually not sure if the Podcast really belongs in the “Presence” category as it’s really another avenue for the fiction itself. Similarly, if I were going to move in a YouTube direction, which I might be, I don’t know that it falls there, either.

    Future plans under Production include ramping up the categories previously noted (Novel/Collection, Short, Poetry Collection) as well as the potential addition of book-length non-fiction and a web-comic when/if I can find an artist to work with.

    Future plans under Presence add in contests and giveaways, a store on my website, and eventually appearing at local conventions with the word “author” on my name badge. That one is a little scary, though I’m not a 100% sure why.

    There may be a couple of other plans that I’m not quite ready to share, but we’ll get there.

    Stay safe, and be well, everyone.

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  • Publishing

    So The Undead Didn’t Publish

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    The wonderful thing about Indie publishing is that you can change your mind about stuff and no one can overrule you because you’re the publisher.

    The Undead: More than Just Brains and Hauntings was supposed to release on the weekend. This is a collection of spec fiction stories ranging from a 200-word flash piece to an 8300-word novelette all featuring, in some fashion, an undead creature. Something around two thirds of them are fantasy stories with the rest falling into a Science Fiction classification. Very, very few of the 40 (yes, 40) tales can be looked at as horror. Not really my genre for reading or writing.

    And yet, the cover my oldest daughter assisted me with clearly says, at least to me, that this is a horror anthology, if, perhaps, a non-traditional one.

    It’s an awesome cover, and I love it, but I don’t want it to be seen as some kind of bait and switch, so something needs to change. Since I’m not going to rewrite all the stories to make them darker or scarier, it’s going to have to be the cover.

    The Undead didn’t publish on the weekend. It will, and fairly soon, but I need to find the imagery that works for me. Much as I love the cover I’ve got, it doesn’t suit the collection. I will hold onto it for future possibilities, though.

    Does it mess up my schedule? Probably a little, but does that really matter? I have my Haiku collection and a long-ish short story slotted for this month, too. A few days difference is not a big deal on any of them, I think.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Publishing,  Writing

    The Various Writing and Publishing Goals for 2020

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    I’ve realized I haven’t put all of these in one place, even though I’ve worked them out in some detail. Okay, a lot of detail. A lot of thought has gone into these, so it could be a long post. Could be, right.

    I put out some basic writing goals in January, noting that it was my intention to not do a lot of drafting until at least the second half of the year, but I’m not sure why I didn’t put a lot of detail into that post. Last year, there were several posts planned. Multiple posts, really, hitting the stretch and super-stretch goals as they became relevant. But last year turned out to be weird in a variety of ways, and I only ever did one of those, merging a bunch of smaller ones together. What I’m planning this time is to lay everything out at once and then do an update at the end of each quarter.

    The overall build of things comes out to four levels in three categories.

    Levels:

    1. Basic Goals
    2. Stretch Goals
    3. Super-Stretch Goals
    4. Secret Goals

    Categories:

    1. Writing – I’ve previously suggested that most of these are going to be editing-based for the year. Originally the first half of the year, but I’ve got a huge backlog of things that I really need to either polish or trunk.
    2. Publishing – having dipped a toe into the indie thing last year, the idea was to ramp this up in 2020 and also to expand efforts in the traditional publishing area this, something I’ve neglected in favour of production for the past couple of years.
    3. Marketing – I’m actually not going to include these here. I may talk about them separately at some point, but these are mostly background things until I hit certain production benchmarks.

    On to the goals themselves.

    From the Writing Side of things

    The Basic Goals:

    1. Plot Novel: 3. I have a lot of novel-length stories I still want to write. I’d like at least three of these to get to the stage where I could start drafting them if I were ready. The basic plan is for these to be: Strewn Across the Stars (the sequel to something I’m intending to shop to publishers and agents), My Cousin Hans (an historical novel, mostly set in World War II), and Kami Falling (also a sequel)
    2. Short Stories: 12. Draft an average of one short story per month. Mostly, I want these to fall into the 3-5k word range, but there’s nothing saying these can’t slide into Novelette territory. A Novella might have to get counted differently if one of those happens.
    3. Flash Stories: 12. Flash definition in my mind is a story told in 1000 words or less, again averaging one of these per month.
    4. Blog Posts: 100. This brings me to an average of 2 posts per week for the year. Right now, 2020 is running at an average of 2.4 posts per week for me. A lot of that average is attributable to the last two months.
    5. ST Audio Scripts Editing: 8. Once upon a time, actually more than once, I had dreams of doing a Star Trek fan audio production. Life events have conspired repeatedly to push me away from that, and Paramount isn’t too keen on fan productions these days. The first two 8-episode “seasons” have already undergone conversion into novels, but the third season has eight episodes that are the equivalent of a first draft. These will probably also get turned into stories, but need some work to smooth out first.
    6. Edit Novel: 2. The original idea here was to take something that’s been finished drafting and get it to final draft status, but I’m actually trying to rotate drafts through several projects, moving from one to another after each draft. I’m not sure how I’ll count this at the end of the year. My instinct is that once something is drafted, it needs four passes to reach “final” product for me (Revision Notes, Fix What’s Broken, Make It Pretty, Read It Aloud), so 8 non-first drafts of whatever kind would meet the numbers here. Still debating if that’s reasonable.
    7. Edit Stories: 12. Taking some of the stories I have drafted and polishing them to the point where they’re fit for human consumption.
    8. Edit FanFic Novel: 1. A Matter of Honour, of course. It’s the only one that really fits this category at the moment.

    The Stretch Goals

    1. Plot Novel: 2 more. Which should maybe be 3 since the next thing I want to work out the plotting and outlining for is actually the second Warforge trilogy, but I set the numbers on these long before I started projecting what projects I might like to take on in what order.
    2. Draft Novel: 1. This is something that will only start once I’ve got all the Basic goals taken care of. I have several things to pick from, but my best bet will probably be something that I’ve already made a small start on, and I’ve got three choices even there.
    3. Short Stories: 3 more.
    4. Flash Stories: 3 more.
    5. Draft Non-Fiction Book: 1. I’ve had in mind something talking about the classic BBC Radio Comedy sketch show, I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again for a couple of year now. I feel like I want to move this a lot closer to the top of the list.
    6. Blog Posts: 25 more.
    7. Edit Novel: 1 more. See my note above on the numbers.
    8. Edit Stories: 3 more.

    The Super-Stretch Goals

    1. Plot Novel: 2 more.
    2. Draft Novel: 1 more. Should probably also be picked from the short list of things I’ve suspended to get a lot of editing done.
    3. Short Stories 3 more.
    4. Flash Stories: 3 more.
    5. Blog Posts: 25 more, which would bring me to my current goal of 3 per week, a goal I’ve been meeting or exceeding for nearly two months now.
    6. Edit Novel: 1 more
    7. Edit Stories: 3 more.

    There are a couple of Secret Goals as well, but if I told you what they were, they wouldn’t be secret. I’ll shout loud when they happen, though.

    On the Publishing Side

    Here’s where things get a little more complicated.

    The Basic Goals:

    1. Agent/Publisher Hunt: 1. I’ve gone back to this as a real goal, and have chosen Ancient Runes (a Science Fiction story, in spite of the title) as the target book, though I have two others I think might fit into this category too, depending on results.
    2. Story Submissions: 50. I’ve been slack here the last several years, heavily focused on novel-length stuff. But I still love short fiction, and I’m not the only one. Time to step it up.
    3. Poetry Collection: 1. I’ve been promising myself this one for a couple of years, but at last have it put together. It’s a small collection of many of my favourites of the haiku I’ve written over the last number of years. It’s actually more or less ready, I’m just not happy with the cover image I’ve taken and that needs to be right before I put together the publishing file.
    4. Indie Novel: 2. The target here was to get the second and third books of my Superhero trilogy up and out. Book Two (Hero’s Life) has already made it into the wild. Book Three (Fallen Heroes) still needs significant editing, but I’m confident it will happen in the fall.
    5. Indie Collection: 1. In progress. The Undead stories are fully edited, but I want something very specific for cover art here and haven’t figured out how to get it yet.
    6. Indie Short: 6. This was originally meant to be one every other month for the year. With the spare time I’ve got now, and picking the stories carefully, I’m at 4, about to be 5, and likely 6 by the first week of June. I could go faster here, but I need to work things out correctly. These will be longer stories, from barely Short Story (6 or 7,000 words) through novella (less than 40,000 words, often called a short novel these days). Meaty stuff that, according to my understanding, people love to read but markets have a hard time wanting to buy. How much great longer fiction have we missed out on over the decades before the indie route was viable?
    7. Fan Fiction Stories release: 4. The number was chosen because there were 4 stories left in my TOS set. I have more planned, but need to catch up first.
    8. Fan Fiction novel release: 1. Again, A Matter of Honour. Likely fairly late in the year.
    9. Indie Collection – FanFic: 1. And this is going to collect my TOS shorter stories to date, of which there are seven totally a little over 65,000 words, so a good size for an entry collection. Not saying there won’t be more in the future, because there likely will.

    The Stretch Goals

    1. Story Submissions: 10 more. If it’s going well, my intent is to push the envelope.
    2. Indie Novel: 1 more. And with the current availability for editing time, this is looking possible.
    3. Indie Short: 3 more. I set this number in the first week of January, long before I had any idea that the shutdown was coming, so I’m not changing the goals, but I think this one is going to be fairly easy to hit.

    The Super-Stretch Goals

    1. Story Submissions: 15 more. Which would bring the total to 75 for the year.
    2. Poetry Collection: 1 more. This one of non-haiku work, of which I have quite a bit.
    3. Indie Novel: 1 more. Can it be done? A fourth novel released by me this year? Only time will tell.
    4. Indie Short: 3 more, making the total for the year 12. Which is also seeming reasonable.

    Again, there are secret goals here, too, but I’ll keep them secret for now. There are also a couple of secret goals that are neither writing nor publishing, but still related. I’m no more than two months from one of those.

    A Final Word

    Looking back at 1700 words of goals, I wonder if I should have broken things up over multiple posts. I also wonder if I overthink things a bit, but I’m also very much a planner and get a lot of joy from working things out in advance when I can.

    And, of course, since I’m not responsible to anyone other than me for these goals at this point, I can make them fairly fluid and modify them as make sense. Or add to them. Or subtract from them.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone. I’ve got to get back to editing.

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  • Publishing,  Writing

    Dedicated Creative Time

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    I made a big deal a few days ago at the incredible amount of editing progress I’ve made since being off due to the COVID shutdown in Ontario. The truth of the matter is it could have been a whole lot more.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled with the amount of progress I’ve made in the last six weeks or so, but most of that progress has been in the “spare time” of a life spent not at work. Once all of the day’s chores and to do list items have been done, I get to spend some writing time, but only after my family members have worked out that they want time to themselves or won’t miss me being around for a half hour or so.

    Two weeks ago, I decided to dedicate some specific time for creative pursuits. Tuesday and Thursday each had a four-hour block of time set aside for creative work and the other days of the week had specific editing targets set that would take somewhere between a half hour and an hour, depending on my focus and the detail level needed, to be squeezed in where time allowed.

    In that week, and mostly because of the 8 hours of dedicated time, I managed well over half of the third draft pass of A Matter of Honour (which was pretty light, really as I’d done a lot of the work that would have been in that draft earlier in the year while cleaning up the dictation during the second draft pass), the entire revision notes pass of Fallen Heroes, got a start on the third draft of Big Hair Day (just the first chapter), and finished off the plotting on Strewn Across the Stars.

    To say I was pleased with the result would be undercutting the emotion.

    This week, I expanded the dedicated time idea so that Tuesday and Thursday still have those four-hour blocks, but every other day of the week got a two-hour block. The result: by the time that two hours closes off tomorrow, I just might be finished the third draft of Big Hair Day, as well as having done an ebook for “Natural Order”, the ebook design files for “For Whom the Gnome Tolls”, and the paperback design for the first two books of The Citizen Trilogy.

    I’m extremely pleased, so much so that next week Sunday’s block is getting bumped up to 4 hours so that I’ve got a nice round 20 hours dedicated to work on my writing over the week.

    This can’t last forever, of course, and it may actually make me a bit sad to go back to work, but sometimes you need to grab the rocket and hold on. If I can actually get the household to-do list short enough, I’m likely to push that 20 hours even higher and try to get all of the planned standard goals for the year checked off and maybe even start on the stretch goals. And the secret ones.

    Lots of screen time, but it’s helping keep me on an even keel and not feel bad about not being able to provide my family with the level of financial support that’s become normal (as if I’m the only one weathering that storm).

    Which makes it time to press go on this post, I think, and still about fifteen minutes available in today’s block of time.

    Stay safe, and be well, everyone.

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  • Publishing,  Writing

    “For Whom the Gnome Tolls” Cover Reveal

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    Oh, another cover for another ebook. What a surprise!

    “For Whom the Gnome Tolls” is a comedic fantasy story a little shy of 6,000 words long and currently on my calendar to publish as an ebook on May 18th. Why I’ve picked Victoria Day to release something is an interesting question, and one I wish I had an answer to. I wasn’t thinking about it being Victoria Day when I picked the date. I wanted a couple of weeks separation from “Natural Order” on one side and the pending (because I want something a little different for a cover) Undead collection on the other.

    Comedic is the word I’ve picked, although whether it’s quaintly funny or oddly bizarre will likely depend on the person doing the reading.

    For the barest hint of content, here’s the cover:

    Thoughts?

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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