Category: Writing

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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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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Return to Writing

Return to Writing

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So as the complete lack of content on my blog might indicate, I’ve been very focused on my primary career so far in 2018. To be honest, I could say that about 2017 and the end of 2016, but it’s paid off. I’ve had a couple of promotions, raises, and significant increases in responsibility and freedom, to the point where I now have the ability to take the largest department in my building and start to mold things into the shape I’d like instead of merely following the direction set. All of which are pretty cool, but taken together mean that a lot of other things in my life have had to give ground.

I’ve had to rearrange schedules and family items and work hard to make sure that the kids I still have living at him still feel like they have a father who lives in the same home. Not always easy, and one of the girls does occasionally remark that I work a lot, generally a clue that I need to reign in a bit, and I’m glad for the reminder. I think I’ve done okay by the family, and the latest job change has made up for some of the wacky schedules I’ve had to put up with over the past year and a half or so.

But my writing has also suffered a bit.

A lot.

To be completely honest, the sum total of my writing in 2018, from January 1st through July 29th, was barely more than 22,000 words, counting everything, and the bulk of that was in January. This year’s original goals are completely toast. But that’s okay. Really.

When we started planning a week-long summer getaway, writing was on the top of my list of things to get back to. Even taking the first full day just to enjoy the scenery and the local outdoors, here’s what I managed for the week:

  1. 4 blog posts, including this one.
  2. Dusted off the outline in progress for Seven Days a King, read through it, and added chapter-level detail for Chapters 21-31 of 40.
  3. Took a 358-word story fragment, hashed out a plot, and added 2,160 Working title is “Replaceable”, and it’s a science fiction tale that is probably about 40% done at 2,518 words. Maybe 35%. A couple of the scenes are not quite developed in my head.
  4. 2,502 words on Shrine, though only after being disturbed out how horrible the last couple of chapters I wrote were. Not going back. They can be fixed in later drafts.
  5. 5 chapters of the third draft of Arena.

Grand total, 9,106 words contributed to the writing gig across five of the six full days we spent at the cottage. I’m not willing to say they were all good words, but I do think they were all coherent words. And that was in among all of the cottage-y activities of the week.

The trick will be rebuilding a daily habit that my primary job doesn’t interfere with. Right now, this level of word count isn’t maintainable, but it would be nice to build up again.

Stay tuned and be well.

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Writing Report for 22 January 2018

Writing Report for 22 January 2018

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When I’m on day shift, as I am for most of January, I have a hard time sitting down in front of the computer for more than a few minutes. For some reason, it’s easier when I’m on nights. I’ve made some progress, but not as much as I wanted to overall. Which is okay. I’ll keep this brief so I can maybe get a few more minutes into a draft in progress.

  1. I added exactly 0 words to Shrine. It’s the first drafts that suffer when I’m on days.
  2. I’ve gotten fourteen scenes (of a planned forty) into the scene-level part of the outline for Seven Days a King.
  3. The second draft of Hero’s Life stands at 63% complete.
  4. Continue plat brainstorming for Speculative Emotion, in case this is something I want to do on my own.
  5. I’ve finished listening to the end of Series 3 of I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again (ISIRTA), finding that a surprising amount of it holds up very well. There are a few cringy things that don’t really fit with a current sensibility, but most of it is good. The puns are certainly there, but there’s a lot of grammar play that goes by quickly unless you’re paying attention, even if some of it is designed to be obvious to get the laugh.

Primary focus projects remain the same for the moment, so I’ll leave things there until the next update.

Be well, everyone.

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2018 Writing Goals

2018 Writing Goals

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For 2018, I actually have two sets of writing goals: the publicly stated goals, which will be listed here, and the “Stretch” goals, which I’ll be keeping private until/unless I actually hit the public goals. The list follows, but I could really have split this into several different lists by category. You’ll notice a progression: novels drafting, novels editing, short fiction, non-Fiction, Year of Trek.

  1. Completed outlines for three novels to be drafted in 2019: the third book in the Destiny trilogy, the final book in the Troll World Quartet, and a sequel to Draugr Rising that may involve some transplanted Japanese mythology.
  2. Finish the first draft of Shrine. Fantasy, and the second book in a set of four.
  3. First draft of Bad Teenage Poetry. Historical fiction set in the 1980s. May or may not be reflective of some experiences I actually had, plus others. Using poetry I actually wrote in the 1980s as a teenager.
  4. First draft of Fallen Heroes. SF, sort of. Third book in the Heroes Inc
  5. Arena to final draft status.
  6. Hero’s Life to final draft status.
  7. Shrine to third draft completion.
  8. Bad Teenage Poetry revision notes.
  9. 24 short stories, length and genre unspecified. These may or may not be built into a themed collection that I may or may not do. Anticipated length range 2-7k words each.
  10. Editing on all of the Undead stories and turning this into a collection.
  11. Photography and design elements for my small haiku collection.
  12. All of the remaining Year of Trek planned projects so I can actually do this. In no particular order:
    1. USS Marathon logs recording.
    2. The rest of the “Season 3” audio drama scripts.
    3. Fractured Unity novel completion.
    4. Pointers to a lot of great fan production.
    5. Nostalgia book, comic, and merchandise reviews.
    6. Finish my favourite Star Trek meme collection.
    7. A small group of media ideas I’m keeping secret.

Seems like a lot, maybe, especially considering the trials and tribulations of last couple of years, and these are the public goals. Think about how steep the stretch goals must be.

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Report for 15 January 2018

Writing Report for 15 January 2018

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Settled down after much holiday travel, much holiday work business, and a family issue or two. I’m actually making a little progress. Blogging has been lighter, but I’ve managed to get some work done on a few projects that are easy to carry with me and don’t require a flat surface to work on. Accomplishments in the last week or so (well, let’s say since the calendar year started and give it two weeks):

  1. I actually put in a little over 3,700 words on Shrine. Setting a goal going forward of 5000 words per week, rather than a daily goal, although if I manage 715 words per day, the weekly goal takes care of itself. I have about 47% of the plot left to get done on what was originally supposed to be about a 60,000-word story and is currently sitting just a few words over 47,000.
  2. Finished the outline on Palace, the sequel to Shrine and the third book in the Troll World Quartet. Not exactly sure when I’ll get to the point of writing the actual first draft, but it’s ready when I do.
  3. I’ve also managed the outline of Seven Days a King, which will be near-future SF, if that isn’t clear from the title, to the point where it’s outlined in broad strokes and I have the scene-level detail left to go.
  4. The second draft of Hero’s Life stands at 31% complete, which sounds impressive until you understand that the second draft for me is just about addressing the notes I made of issues as I read through the story again. Third draft is the one that takes the most effort, maybe including the initial brain dump to get the story out of my head.
  5. And I did finish the final read-through draft of Draugr Rising, just before Grav-mass.
  6. Short fiction, I’ve started the basic plot brainstorming for a themed short story collection I’m labelling Speculative Emotion for the moment. The problem here is that I’m torn between writing this myself and trying to do it as a multi-author thing where it actually gets published in some fashion.
  7. On the non-fiction side of things, I’m toying with the idea of a project that looks at I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again (ISIRTA), a BBC Radio comedy show that ran from the mid-1960s into the early 70s, which I discovered on PBS in the late 80s and found online again in the last few years. Pun-filled and absurdism-riddled, this is some classic comedy history and a lot of it (but not all) still holds up fifty-plus years later. I’ve gone so far as to put together a basic outline and structure for the project.

Target projects that will get at least some effort (and remember that I’m happier working on several things at once rather than one thing at a time):

  1. The “properly” drawn and then ink versions of the strips for Star Trek: The Badly Drawn Stick Figure Comic. Yes, I still haven’t gotten to this.
  2. Finishing the outline for Seven Days a King. First draft to follow at some point.
  3. Completing the first draft of Shrine. My current projection shows that, if I can keep on track with the weekly goals, this will happen at the end of the third week of February.
  4. Finish the last few reviews from my 2017 reading and turn that into the same document I’ve done for 2015 and 2016 reading lists.
  5. The second draft of Hero’s Life.
  6. Make decisions on what I want to do with the Speculative Emotion and ISIRTA

And, you know, take care of the rest of life, too.

Be well, everyone.

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2017 Writing Summary

2017 Writing Summary

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Let’s face it, 2017 was a rather weak writing year for me.

The year came with some major life adjustments, including, in particular, a much-increased set of responsibilities at work, some family health issues, and dealing with my oldest child moving out on his own to go to school.

Less an excuse and more a set of facts, but it comes down to me only writing 42,000 words of new fiction this year. Now, there was more than 103,000 words of non-fiction, including blog posts and reviews, and I took three novels to final draft complete status, as well as detailed plots for three more, and another to a second draft complete. Short fiction was weaker on the new wordage front, but did all right under the heading of editing, as well, with every story slotted for the Undead collection at least at second draft status and some of them all the way to final.

Non-fiction fared a little better, with lots of review done, 70 or so blog posts, and the 2015 and 2016 Reading Journeys formatted and put into PDF files for easier access by people who aren’t me who have an interest.

I know that’s less of a detailed review than I usually do, but we’re into the next year now and I’m setting my sights on some pretty significant goals, which I’ll discuss another day. And, to steal a line, “I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now.”

Be well, everyone.

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What Do I Want From My Writing?

What Do I Want From My Writing?

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I’ve been trying to take my writing seriously for most of the past decade. During that time, I’ve completed, at least to the first draft level, eleven novels ranging in length from 60,000 to 126,000 words, 171 short stories from 100-word flash pieces to a 35,000-word novella.

Over the course of just slightly more than ten years, I have, by my tracking, put more than 3.4 Million words together into sentences as of this afternoon, nearly 2.5 Million of them fiction.

108,000 of those have been accepted for publication by other sources.

Life intervenes frequently, of course. I have a family, including 3 teenagers, a career, a giant dog, several feline overlords, and a lot of responsibilities. Major events have sometimes gotten in the way of things, writing-wise, and you need to deal with what the universe puts in your path.

But I can get the words in when I’m focused. At this point, I feel like I’m at least a decent storyteller, and if my first drafts still tend to be rather rough (though once in a while, I surprise myself), my editing process works well for me and produces a decent final product when the starting product is worthwhile, or so I’m told by non-familial beta readers.

So why am I not publishing? Why am I not at least submitting?

Ah, there’s the question. Why am I not submitting? I can find time to craft the words, but I can’t seem to find time to get them into other people’s hands or to put things together into well-crafted books of my own and go the indie route.

And that, no surprise, is what needs to change.

I’m setting some pretty significant word goals for 2018. Or I was. Those need to be a little lighter to make some time to get my work out there. 2018 needs to not just be filled with words, but with submissions at every level and perhaps an agent hunt, too.

Some planning needs to go into my writing career from here forward.

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Report for 11 December 2017

Writing Report for 11 December 2017

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The busy-ness seems to continue. I didn’t get a lot done on the writing front this week and, now that I look back, that seems completely normal when I’m on day shift in the past year. Working nights, I seem to have more quiet time available.

Accomplishments rank above zero, but count mainly as blog posts. I have started plotting/outlining Palace, the third book in the Troll World quartet. Other than that, there really hasn’t been much. I hope the next couple of weeks will be better, in spite of the Holiday season, as I have a couple of extra days off here and there (although not the standard holidays themselves).

Targets for effort:

  1. The “properly” drawn and then ink versions of the strips for Star Trek: The Badly Drawn Stick Figure Comic.
  2. Trying to finish the final draft of Draugr Rising.
  3. Completing the first draft of Shrine the second of the Troll World books. Hopefully, I’ll squeeze enough words into this during December that I can get polish the draft off in January.
  4. Detailed outline of the third Troll World book, Palace.
  5. Once the comic strips are done, I’ll move onto the next piece of the Year of Trek posts, nostalgia generating Books, Comics, Merchandise.
  6. The second draft of Hero’s Life.

Let’s see how this goes.

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Report for 04 December 2017

Writing Report for 04 December 2017

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So not much to report, really. I’ve had a busy, stressful week. Probably, that means I should be writing more. Or, you know, at all.

Actually, I got a little bit done in the way of blog posts in the past week, but not much more. I’m not stalled on anything, exactly. I just don’t have the energy at the moment. Too much taking up the energy I do have, so when I sit down to the keyboard, I’m more likely to be skimming through news or other information on the internet.

Lots of reading. Not much writing.

This too shall pass.

Be well, everyone.

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