While I’m getting ducks in a row, I’m still trying to get lots of creative work done, too. There are plenty of goals to be attained, but I’m putting in work on a couple of things that aren’t part of the normal daily goals at the moment.
First, I’ve been thinking about the idea that it’s possible for a very small number of people to produce an animated movie with current technology. Realistically, you need a script writer, an animator, a sound effects person, and voice talent adequate and numerous enough for the task. Draugr Rising is a novel with, if I’ve counted correctly, nine characters. It’s an adventure fantasy story borrowing a bit from Norse mythology, and taking place in present-day Toronto. I’m not saying it’s going to become an animated movie, but it seems like an easy choice for an experiment if I wanted to go with a story I already have the novel of. First step is conversion to a screenplay format and then editing that into what would be a reasonably paced movie. Then, maybe, I can think about what it would take to get there.
Second, I’ve looped back around to the Star Trek fan fiction and started the revision notes phase of the second batch of shorter stories. Shorter than novel-length, anyway. Two of them are deep into novella territory, more often called a short novel these days, though I still often think of a short novel as under 60k when the SFWA definition that most genre folks refer back to says a novel starts at 40k. It wasn’t always that way and as we push forward into the new golden age of virtual pulp and short fiction, it probably won’t stay that way. Changes are already in the wind.
At any rate, I’ve dived back into Pride of Andor, the tentative title for a story that will wind up being in the 26-29k range once it’s fully polished. The primary protagonist is a character of my own who used to serve on the titular ship but I’ve been using as Security Chief on the Enterprise for a while.
And, of course, I’m still pushing forward hard on the regular editing. I just finished the last second draft in the Troll World Series and I’ll let those rest for a couple of weeks while I do the finals for the Warforge: Caledonia triad.
And I’m planning a significant non-fiction project, too, but the shape of that depends a lot on the new life path I keep not talking about. Soon.
In the meantime, stay safe and be well, everyone.by
So far this year.
Not bad. It ticked over somewhere during my work on Converging Destiny. It’s been harder than I expected to slip back into the narrative, but the 30k I’d written before I went through the ‘figuring out my head’ journaling period I went through last year reads pretty well. I expect the first chapter or two to be a struggle to find the same voice, and will probably get stretched out too far in time as a result, but the rest of the plot reads clearly and I think I’ll manage to finish the first draft in the time I’ve projected. The plan is to dive into Unified Destiny right after, which I also have fully plotted, though I’m not afraid to deviate.
But, 200k this year. Granted, most of that is post COVID, but at least I’m getting some writing done, yes? I’m hoping to beat my average year by December 31st. Mathematically, that’s a little less than 351k, but that tends to be mostly drafting and I’m definitely trying to spend the lion’s share of my creative time on editing right now, mostly because I usually spend it drafting.
The breakdown this year so far (and I’m carrying only to July 31st, so just past 200k), by word count is something like:
38% Non-Fiction (mainly blog posts)
The editing piece is a bit staggering, really. I count editing on a net change basis. While that’s usually positive, it isn’t always, and a net change of, say, 100 words, isn’t necessarily representative of a specific time spent editing. Things get changed, rearranged, edited, deleted. 100 words’ worth of difference might have taken five minutes or it might have taken an hour or more. It’s not meaningless, exactly, but it’s meaning is variable.
And there’s something about my mental makeup that requires me being able to attach numbers to things. It’s important to be able to track progress, though, to me if no one else.
Yeah, I’m happy with that.
Stay safe and be well, everyone.by
I will try to keep it brief this month, though we all know that’s hard for me. As far as writing goes, it’s a shorter list of accomplishments than last month, but I’m okay with that. I’ve been spending a little more time on the to do list and a little less writing, and the stuff I got done made me happy.
- Smog Alert 1st Draft. Star Trek fanfic. Kirk and Spock are at a tactical conference while Sulu, in command, ferries some scientists to New Aberdeen.
- Tholian Rescue 1st Draft. The Enterprise picks up a distress call from a Tholian ship.
- Time Travel Sucks 1st Draft. Why even 1986 might get tiring after a while.
- An Ethical Debate 1st Draft in progress. A short-ish science fiction tale about an alien species wanting to strike a deal with a woman who lives alone. I thought I’d actually be done this but keep leaving it in favour of other items. That should tell me something about the story.
- Fallen Heroes Final Draft. Which means I can get ready to slot the third volume in the Citizen Trilogy into the queue for publication.
- Warforge 1 – Harold’s Story 3rd Draft, bringing all three Caledonia novels to a third draft status.
- A total of 22 blog posts published, giving me a weekly average of 5 for July.
After not doing a very good job on the publishing side last month, I managed a few things in July.
- The Undead: More Than Just Brains and Hauntings – talked about this one a lot last month, I think, so I don’t feel the need for more at the moment, but it’s finally out.
- Haiku – the collection. Still needs a tpb formatted, but available as an ebook.
- “Common Ground” – in the void between the stars, there are lenty of things that have been lost over the millennia. Sometimes finding them is profitable, and sometimes it’s dangerous.
- “Career Aspirations” – while on vacation, Lieutenant Commander Sulu has some doubts about his career path.
- “Footprints in the Dust” – scheduled to drop on August 8th, it’s done, uploaded, and ready to go.
Overall, a good month. While the total word count didn’t quite reach 26k, I’m happy with the progress I made and look forward to August being at least as productive. I won’t share specific word count goals, but I will say that there should be a novel and two shorts hitting the ebook list during the month. Looking ahead to the fall, well, as a wise Muppet once said, always in motion is the future. I have plans, but I’ll reforecast every month based on reality at the time.
Stay safe and be well, everyone.by
It’s the last day of July in 2020 and as we all try to get some rest before moving to level 8 of Jumanji (Murder Hornets might be making a come back – I bet you all wondered what happened to that plot point), I’m looking back over the last four months and trying to see the difference I’ve made.
The house is cleaner.
The to do list is actually shorter.
Sometime during tonight’s writing, I’ll break 200k words produced for the year so far, more than 175k of which are since COVID brought everything to a screeching halt.
I’ve spent far too much time on social media.
I’ve learned and grown and encouraged and supported and gotten angry and written letters and poems and recorded a little video and a little audio. Most of the angriest stuff, the most political stuff, hasn’t reach other ears or eyes yet. That may change soon.
I’m more relaxed, less stressed, happier, and in better shape than I’ve been in for a long time. All in spite of all the things to be angry about.
But has what I’ve done in the last few months mattered?
That’s a really good question. It certainly has to my family, including my aging Saint Bernard. But beyond that? It’s a very good question. The answer is to keep trying to do and be better.
Stay safe and be well, everyone.by
While I’m not quite ready to call totals on July word counts yet, they’re going to be substantively lower than June and even May, probably closer to April levels. There are a variety of reasons for this, including some real-world ones. From a writing perspective, though, it’s more editing, less drafting, and fewer blog posts. The average word count per day for July is running at a little under 850, well off of May’s 1600 and the over 2600 I managed for June, but still a bit above April’s 840.
And I’m entirely okay with that. June was, by all measures, a spectacular month. In the entire time I’ve been taking my writing seriously, I’ve only had three better, and two of those only just. My average month over the last year and a half is just shy of 41,000 words, though. July isn’t going to make that but, like I said, there’s not a lot of drafting going on. That may change in the last week of the month, but we’ll see.
I’ve also made some progress on the publishing side of things that makes me happy. That, combined with the raw work I have been getting done means that, overall, I’m having a good creative month. That’s what really counts.
Looking back at this post, though, it almost seems like it’s a sort of reporting that there’s nothing to report kind of post, which isn’t what I intended when I started typing.
I suppose the best way to change that is to put something a little more meaningful in. So, here goes:
- I’ve finished the first drafts of the second batch of TOS short fanfiction
- I’m within spitting distance of finishing the final draft of the third Heroes Inc book.
- Two ebooks have published this month and a third is set up to drop on Saturday.
And thus, I spoil some of what will be in the monthly writing report a week from Saturday. So be it.
Stay safe and be well, everyone.by
“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.by
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:
- Plot novel. Basic goal = 3, Stretch = +2, Super Stretch = +2. Q2 = 2, bringing us to 2 for 2020 so far.
- Draft novel. Basic goal = 0. Stretch = 1, Super Stretch = +1. Q2 = 0, bringing us to 0 for 2020 so far. So right on track.
- 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.
- Flash Stories. Basic goal = 12, Stretch = +3, Super Stretch = +3. Q2 = 2, bringing us to 2 for 2020 so far.
- Non-fiction book. Stretch = 1. Q2 = 0, bringing us to 0 for 2020 so far.
- Blog posts. Basic goal = 100, Stretch = +25, Super Stretch = +25. Q2 = 64, bringing us to 85 for 2020 so far.
- 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.
- 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.
- Story Editing. Basic goal = 12, Stretch = +3, Super Stretch = +3. Q2 = 6, bringing us to 6 for 2020 so far.
- Fanfic novel editing. Basic goal = 1. Q2 = 1, bringing us to 1 for 2020 so far.
- 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.
- 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.
- Poetry collection. Basic goal = 1, Super Stretch = +1. Q2 = 1, bringing us to 1 for 2020 so far.
- Indie Novel. Basic goal = 2, Stretch = +1, Super Stretch = 1. Q2 = 1, bringing us to 1 for 2020 so far.
- Indie Collection. Basic goal = 1. Q2 = 1, bringing us to 1 for 2020 so far.
- Indie short. Basic goal = 6, Stretch = +3, Super Stretch = +3. Q2 = 6, bringing us to 6 for 2020 so far.
- Fan Fiction stories. Basic goal = 4. Q2 = 1, bringing us to 3 for 2020 so far.
- Fan Fiction Novel. Basic goal = 1. Q2 = 0, bringing us to 0 for 2020 so far.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.by
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:
- 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.
- Fallen Heroes 3rd Draft. Third book in The Citizen trilogy, my not-quite traditional superhero stories.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Additional (completed) short stories consisted of two flash pieces this month:
- “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.
- “Time Loop” – which, in spite of the title, is probably not a time travel story, or even SF. 342 words.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- “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.by
Which is pretty cool. I mean, it’s easy to be consistent when you’ve got the “extra” time, but the number of times I’ve posted this many days in a row in the past is very small, and each (both?) of those were for specific projects. Since the pandemic started forcing things closed in Ontario, I’ve been averaging about 4 posts per week. Before that, in 2020, I was averaging 3 posts every two weeks. June has been a huge increase. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve got more to write about or because more of what I want to write about has a better chance of making it to the keyboard.
Worth noting that in those 25 days, there’s been a total of 26 posts since I actually posted twice on the 18th of June. That was accidental. I’d forgotten about a significant political event happening that day until it started.
Is it a streak? Should I keep track? Yes and, well, have you met me? I track everything. More importantly, am I going to keep posting every day? I think that’s a qualified yes. I will try to post every day, but it’s not going to be the number one writing priority. While I’m usually working a couple of days in advance so there’s a buffer, that next post is the piece of the day’s writing goals that comes after editing, drafting, and publishing prep (if any). I enjoy it, and I’m going to continue, but the fiction is the main thing right now.
I guess that’s a roundabout way of saying that the streak will last as long as it lasts.
Stay safe and be well, everyone.by
I don’t intend to argue (or even give) definitions in this post, but as I look at the world of fiction, there are 11 genres. Yes, if you include sub-genres and genre-mixings you can get that number an awful lot higher, but I’m just looking at the broad buckets here.
And I’m going to express preferences. Remembering that your preferences are not mine, you should disagree as much as you like. Those preferences and favourites, both for reading and writing, will become apparent in the short comments that follow. I will say in advance that I have a strong preference for speculative genres and frequently only read in most of the others if they’re mixed in.
I present the 11 genres in alphabetical order.
- Adventure (or you could say Thriller if you like).
- Crime (includes things like Detective, Police Procedurals, Noir).
- Science Fiction.
For reading preferences, Science Fiction is where I live most of the time. SF offers endless possibilities for exploring ideas, concepts, possibilities, and what it means to be human. In any given year, SF makes up at least 75% of my fiction reading.
Fantasy is where I spend the second largest amount of time. The SF/F split used to be a lot closer to 50/50 and I know that there’s plenty of awesome and creative stuff being done, but too much of it seems to be just exploring this neat world/magic system/character the author has created. I say ‘just’ like that’s a bad thing, but it isn’t. These can be great stories, they’re just mostly not what I want anymore. I want stuff to make me think, stuff to make me consider big questions. For me, the best Fantasy does that, but most of it doesn’t look in that direction. And that’s entirely fine. It’s just not for me right now.
Third most popular genre for ready for me would probably be historical. I have general preferences for ancient Greeks and Romans, Medieval, and Napoleonic Wars, though it feels like I haven’t read a lot of any of these for a long time. Long enough that I feel like I should go and have a look for what’s published in the last few years.
I think I’ve read exactly one Crime novel, two Mysteries, and three Thrillers in my life. Any literary fiction was for an English class. Romance, Suspense, and Westerns don’t hit the reading list on their own. Any and all of these genres are fine as elements in a story in one of my preferred genres, but I’ve never developed a taste for any of them as genres in their own right. I do sometimes wonder if it’s been a mistake not to try. Whole multiverses full of stories that I just never consider. Something to think about.
You’ll notice the absence of Horror in everything I’ve written so far in this post. I don’t really do Horror. I tend to express that as finding aspects of reality disturbing enough and I’m not really looking for that in my entertainment. I have tried. As part of my ongoing quest to read all of the books, I keep encountering Horror novels in the World Fantasy Award group. Every one of these I’ve tried has been a DNF (Did Not Finish). More have been DNR (Did Not Read). I’ve never really understood the desire to get in touch with the dark side of things, the fear, the things that cost you sleep at night. I understand that some people do like that in their fiction, but I don’t share it.
Horror aside, other things that I hate in fiction for the same reason:
- Pointless gore and violence.
- Killing/torturing/abusing children as a plot device. I abandon TV shows for that, why would I read it? There are authors whose work I’ve never gone back to because of this.
- Torture/sexual violence. I leave the room when that happens on TV. I’ve shut off movies because of it. Not high on the list of things I want to see in fiction.
- The bad guy winning. Happens too often in the real world, thanks.
Am I squeamish? Over-sensitive? A wimp? Pick the word you like. I prefer to think of it as knowing myself well and being able to empathize with the character on the receiving end. And really, I get enough of these things while consuming media about reality.
Writing preferences match up fairly well with my reading preferences at the genre level, which shouldn’t surprise anyone too much. But if I get Excel to do the work for me, I come up with the following basic percentages:
- Science Fiction 47%
- Fantasy 39%
- Horror 10%
- Historical 1%
- Contemporary 3%
Most of the Horror is probably more like Dark Fantasy, but most of then were also written with either specific anthology calls in mind or to see if I could write to a specific theme. And not one of them is particularly horrific.
Most of the ‘Contemporary’ probably should go in the Adventure bucket. The super short stuff that doesn’t, well, I guess I’d have to mark them down as Literary, even though that feels weird.
If I only look at what I’ve written since the beginning of 2019, the numbers turn out very different, with SF being almost 75% of all the stories in that time, counting only first drafts. One Historical Fiction novel, one short that has to be called Literary, and the rest Fantasy. Comes much closer to the reading mix, doesn’t it?
So, reading and writing both, I’m a speculative fiction guy. Broadly speaking, just about everything I write is either Science Fiction or Fantasy, but I have some plans to branch out a little more over the next year or so.
Stay safe and be well, everyone.by