January Writing Update

Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

So, as promised, here’s the first Writing Update for 2013, covering the month of January.

Total Words of New Fiction: 15,740

Of which 6798 were in Dreams of Freedom. Considering the goal was 20,000, that’s not all that impressive, however more on that in a minute.

1021 were the first half of a new scene in Warforge: Caledonia.

The remaining 7,921 words went into “Klaatu Barada Nikto, Baby!” and a Warforge short story tentatively titled “Closing Time”. Neither of these stories are actually complete at this point and the overall word count left me 604 words short on this month’s short fiction goal.

On the editing side of things:

I did a full read of Ancient Runes, making revision notes all the way, 5200 words worth for a 67,000 word novel. And I finished them with three days to spare. I wonder how long the second draft will end up being. By the time this posts, I’ll have already started.

The slow 2nd draft of Warforge: Caledonia is just a touch slower than originally projected, at least so far, with me getting 68% of the distance I wanted to into the manuscript.

Between here and Renaissance Ninja, I’ve written 10 blog posts, including most of this one, totaling 5020 words. Plus book reviews for the first four Star Trek: Titan novels (a discussion for another day), and a partial draft of the author’s notes for the stories to be in the first issue of Small Realities.

So, the final total, counting everything but editing as new words, is 28,197 for January. Not too shabby, really, even if, from a goals perspective, it works out to only 2 met out of 6 with the other 4 missed by varying degrees.

It’s also worth noting that I received two story acceptances this month (“Strength of Stone” at Sorcerous Signals, and “Dragonomics” at Cast of Wonders), but didn’t manage to actually send any submissions out. Need to fix that for February.

Speaking of February, I’ve done the breakout for specific goals and have set the new fiction goal very lightly for the month in order to focus on the second draft of Ancient Runes as much as possible. But aside from that, I have to do the real prep work for the first issue of Small Realities, and I have no idea what kind of time commitment the Cyborg Bunnies Podcast is going to need.

A good month, and one I’m counting as successful. All goals are a moving target, and to paraphrase something I read once, if you shoot for the stars and fail, you might still make orbit.

Be well, everyone, and stay tuned.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

A Podcast? Really?

Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

So we all know I’ve been thinking about podcasting for a long time. Over the second half of 2012, I did a lot of research and listening to podcasts about podcasting, and generating ideas for different things I might like to do. I’m pretty much ready to jump in and get started, planning some fiction and something just for fun. I expected curve balls as I get things ready, but I didn’t expect one quite so soon: my oldest daughter came to me out of the blue and said she wanted to do a podcast together.

Within an hour, we’d sat down and worked out what we wanted to podcast about, generated enough content ideas for a dozen episodes with no sign of slowing down, and started on a list of possible names. Wow.

The naming of a podcast is a big deal. It needs to reflect the content you’re producing in some way, and it needs to say something about you as the host(s) as well. However, this isn’t about me. It’s about my daughter and me. It needs to be fun for her and therefore make her happy, so the name of the podcast is whatever she wants it to be.

And she wants it to be “Cyborg Bunnies”.

Believe it or not, it works.

We brainstormed names for almost an hour, starting with things like “Family Geek Adventures” and “Mel & Dad Geek Out”, and getting gradually stranger and sillier. She turned up her nose at the first few serious suggestions, telling me the name needed to be fun and random, since the podcast would be. So they got gradually got stranger and more random, and “Cyborg Bunnies” is where we wound up.

We’ve discussed the need for artwork, an e-mail address, and hosting, and we’re fleshing out something like a structure for the show. Not too much of a structure, mind you, but ideas for a variety of segments to mix and match with using the Wheel of Random™.

Yes, this may affect my creative goals for the year. There’s only so much time in any given day/week/month. So what? Those goals are arbitrary benchmarks set by me, and this is something one of my children wants to do (and another wants to guest star on once in a while). That makes it a far higher priority than any story, novel, or self publishing venture. I can adjust my goals, especially for my kids.

Plus it’s going to be a heck of a lot of fun. Maybe people will even listen, but we’re not all that worried about that.

For now, I need to go make a list of extra equipment I’ll need so that two of us can record at once. Another microphone, a mixer…

Be well, everyone.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Reading Goals for 2013

Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

And, to round things out, reading. I haven’t been reading enough for pleasure in the last few years. There was a time, long ago before I became a parent or a serious writer, or a fully functioning adult, when I read a lot more. Through most of my 20s, I read 150-200 novels per year, haunting bookstores new and used alike (and not just because I tended to work in them). Those days are gone. Most of my short fiction consumption (and there’s still a fair bit of that) is online these days, but I read thirteen novels last year.

When I closed out my career with Chapters, I had about five years worth of projected reading material, some of it fiction and some not. There are quite a few of those books I never opened and may never. I’ve picked up plenty of other stuff in the years since, but my life has also had a lot of changes in the same time.

But this year I want to do more reading than I’ve made time for in the recent past. For the number-obsessed geek in me, that means setting some goals. So…

Fiction: I’m after 26 novels this year. Yup, doubling last year. A novel every two weeks doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. I brought quite a few home from World Fantasy, have lots more lying around, and have put about twenty electronic editions on my phone. No excuses. And audio counts.

Martial Arts: karate has grown to be a very important part of my life and activity over the last couple of years. It is my intention to read at least six martial arts related books this year. I’ve picked them out already and have five of them in my possession.

Comic Books: a couple of years back, I started doing some comic book rereads, finding old friends and catching up. I used to collect comics when I was younger and had disposable income (i.e. no responsibilities). I’ve spent most of that time with the X-men, working my way from the beginning up to the late 1980s. I hope to hit 1995 by the end of the year. Not too lofty a goal, hmm? If I make it, that’s going to carry me pretty close to the end of my collection and I’ll have to make a decision or two at that point.

Other reading: I do a lot of non-fiction reading, mostly on the internet, either news or for research. I’m not going to set a goal here as it’s something I do almost every day, but it’s worth noting. While we’re at it, there are a dozen or so web comics I read regularly, checking in a couple of times each month to read every page published since the last time I was there. I am still reading, it just mostly hasn’t been the same stuff I used to read. But I’d like to fix that a bit.

That rounds out my primary writing related goals for the year (and if you don’t think reading relates, we should talk about feeding the creativity beast within). As per usual, I’m crazy. But that’s okay. The attempt is more important than the success, although success on all fronts would be pretty cool. I’ll post monthly status updates and you can check my progress on the reading goal on Good Reads any time. Please go ahead and friend me while you’re there.

Be well, everyone.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Publishing Goals for 2013

Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

Part 3 of 4 in the “Goals of 2013” series. I don’t want to rehash the Three Year Plan post too much, but the independent publishing goals stand:

  • Small Realities 1-4. Small collection of my short fiction targeted at 28-30,000 words each and published in March, June, September, and December. I’ve already picked the stories for the first one, and I’m thinking about cover art and author’s notes.
  • “Turn the World Around”. 35,000 word Science Fiction novella/short novel. Figuring on late summer for this.
  • “Thorvald’s Wyrd”. Epic fantasy told in 100-word scenes. Late in the fall. It’s a wintery kind of tale.
  • “Where the Water Tastes Funny”, a 6,000-ish short story that needs to be of the illustrated variety. Sometime in the fall.

I don’t promise the list won’t shrink or grow. A lot will depend on how smoothly the year runs, obviously, but I want to commit to Small Realities coming out regularly this year. If it’s even marginally successful, and preferably fun, I’ll continue next year and beyond. I’m not going to stop writing short fiction, so I’ll want to keep sharing it.

Depending on my shopping of Graceland, Skip to My Luu, and Heroes Inc., there’s a good chance at some novel length indie publishing in my future, too. I kind of doubt any of those will be this year, though. There’s already a lot on the plate.

Be well, everyone.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Editing Goals for 2013

Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

Added to the new fiction goal of 365k, the list of editing goals for this year looks a little absurd, but:

  • Skip To My Luu needs some minor tweaking here and there. Just a couple of manners of speech and items that I think pull the reader a bit out of the story when they come up. A little smoothing out.
  • Warforge: Caledonia is to go through its second draft. While I’m putting this into the Editing category of goals, the “fill in the gaps” story expansion that’s part of this draft needs, at a guess, 40,000-ish words. But the target on this one is the end of the year, so I’m not all that concerned about how quickly I work through this.
  • Ancient Runes, a middling-far future SF story I started on January 1st 2009 and abandoned at 31,009 words on February 15th of the same year. I picked it up again in December 2011 and found it wasn’t as bad as I thought. On the 11th, I found the story started to make sense again and put some new words into it, a few every day until I typed the last paragraph on April 21st 2012. I’d like for this story to reach a state where it’s ready for beta readers by the end of the year.
  • Tashiik Dreams, which I haven’t even written the first draft yet, I’d like to see into the second draft by the end of the year. Or maybe Dreams of Freedom, which is actually in progress already. One of the two. (Hmm. Looking at the title similarity suddenly, but the dreams are different.)

So lots of editing this year, too. But at a steady, measured pace, I hope.

Be well, everyone.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Writing Goals for 2013

Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

So, the Three Year Plan notwithstanding, I’ve got some writing goals for 2013. I don’t want to use the word “resolutions”. Too easy to give up and I’m all about flexibility and adaptability in accomplishing my goals.

My overall word target is a moving one, but the initial one is big. Bigger than I’ve ever managed before. Bigger than the last two years combined. Granted that the last couple of years have not been the best, creatively, but I have high hopes for 2013. Looking into the future, it seems pretty bright.

And the goal amounts to only 1,000 words per day, not counting blogging or philosophy. Both of those only get to happen if I’ve already hit the fiction target for the day. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Well, toss in the editing and revisions I want to do, and it might look a little more intense, but I’m not going to let intensity worry me.

Actually, I’m not going to let the goal itself worry me. Every month is fresh, every day is fresh. The goal is only a goal and whatever I achieve will be awesome because it will have created stories that don’t exist yet.

But I’m putting it down here: my target for 2013 is 365,000 new words of fiction, including as much as 100,000 words of short fiction because I love short stories. We’ll see what the number totals to on December 31st before I go to bed.

Be well, everyone.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

A Quick Writing Update

Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

So I haven’t blogged much lately, but I have been getting some stuff done. Christmas, mostly, but a little bit of writing and related activities as well.

I’ve done most of the pre-writing I want to do for Dreams of Freedom and expect to start writing it somewhere between now and Christmas. The story is taking shape pretty well in my head and I hope that’s a good thing. Previous experience with detailed plotting has had me lose interest pretty quickly once I start writing. I’m usually better off only plotting three or four chapters ahead at most. Trying things a little differently this time, so we’ll see how it works.

I might have mentioned “Klaatu Barada Nikto, Baby!” somewhere, probably on Twitter. It’s a long novelette (or possibly short novella) pulling several ancient SF clichés together with a character who can only speak in slightly mangled SF TV and movie quotes. This is from an idea I had at least five years ago, and even wrote a little bit of at the time. The story has shifted but character never went away and I feel like it’s finally time to tell Klaatu’s story. So far, I’m about 6600 words in and feel like I’m at the midpoint, but we all know how good I am at projecting story length lately.

A couple of years ago, I wrote Warforge: Caledonia, calling it a novel made up of three interlinked novellas. It was fun to write, had concepts and characters I enjoyed, and seemed pretty good at the time. I put it away for a couple of months after the first draft and didn’t like it when I pulled it out again. Fast forward a couple of years, and it’s not nearly as bad as I thought, but needs work. I spent a little bit of time untangling the novellas before reading through critically to make revision notes for each. As part of the process, I added notes at a high level to fill in what I perceived to be the missing bits. The project needs some significant changes and additions, totally 30-50,000 words at a guess. Which <counting on fingers> is going to put all three stories outside novella range and into short novel territory at 40-50k. And when do I plan on doing this? An excellent question. Yes, I’m crazy.

You might have heard me complain on Twitter that I was having trouble with a story I intended to submit to an anthology. Well, I didn’t submit it and not because the story didn’t turn out well (I think it did), but because I beat the high end of the submission guidelines by 2,000 words. Natural Order has gone through two more drafts, and is better for both, but still comes in at just over 6,800 words. Considering my rough estimate for the original story was for 3.5-4k, that’s still on the long side. And I didn’t submit it; not because it wasn’t done on time (it could have been, but I let things go when it became clear I had no possibility of coming in under the max word count), but because I couldn’t justify to myself even asking the editors if they’d still like to see it. “Hey, I know your guidelines say you’d like things around 3-3.5k and will look at things up to 5, but my story is so good you should give it the space you’re planning to devote to two other stories.” Sure, that’ll go over well.

Perhaps it’s a sign of encroaching middle age, but I’m finally committing to keyboard some of the philosophical thoughts I’ve slowly developed over the course of almost forty-two years on this planet. I don’t expect them all to remain static, but there are a lot of small points I seem to feel the need to make more concrete. The Book of Lance so far contains about 2,000 words worth of point form notes. Eventually, it will encompass 40-ish short chapters. I don’t intend it for public consumption, but who knows.

So that’s what I’ve been up to in the last few weeks, aside from work, family, and getting Christmas organized (it’s a slam dunk this year, if I do say so myself).

Be well, everyone.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Plotting a Novel, Roughly

Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

So I spent an hour and a half yesterday morning roughing out a novel. Well, two thirds of one, anyway. It’s a story that’s been nibbling at the back of my brain now and then for about a year now and I’ve been content to let it nibble for the most part, though I’ve drafted a couple of the early scenes just to keep it under control while I tried to accomplish other things.

That stopped working yesterday. My brain has begun demanding that I find some way to get this story into a more complete form and out of my skull. I thought maybe if I sketched out a few more scenes and a character or two, that might do it for now and I could put my energy back into my Green Man story (which, as previously discussed, I know there is no way it’s going to get short enough to meet the guidelines, but it’s still a good story so I want to finish it) where it belongs.

Yeah, right.

90 minutes later, I had most of the main character’s primary story arc laid out, along with some smaller arcs for the other critically important characters. Throw in a few notes on political and magic systems, and the general state of the world, and I’ve got the frame work for a novel I wasn’t intending to write until 2014. Yes, the Three Year Plan (TM) is sketched out to that level of detail—I know the next six novel-length stories I want to write, or thought I did. Actually, I think I know further out than that, but I’m trying to keep things flexible.

But the voices in my head rise and fall and Alishra’s is pretty loud right now. I’d planned a lot of polishing and editing for the remainder of this year with a couple of short stories tossed into the mix for fun.

And yet.

I may have mentioned I’ve been studying story structure lately. This is still true. The internet is a huge and wondrous place filled with myriad bits of differing advice on what makes a story work and how to write one. Most of those bits of advice tend to note that your mileage may vary and you should find what works for you. I’ve been picking and choosing the pieces that make sense to me. Perhaps this is an opportunity for an experiment in fiction writing.

This does relate. Here’s what I’ve decided:

The Three Year Plan (TM) does not need to be adjusted at this time.

Only two things are directly embedded in it for December:

  1. The selection of stories for the first issue of Small Realities.
  2. Pre-writing for Tashiik Dreams.

These can both still be accomplished. The first is picking 30-ish thousand words of my favourite stories while the second should be doable sometime in December considering how fast I did a bunch of pre-work on a different novel this morning.

Dreams of Freedom gets the creative pole position

But only until the end of the year. Yes, as of right now, that’s only another 33 days (counting today), but that’s 33 days to potentially produce some serious wordage. I’ve had a light writing year for a bunch of reasons, but I can let the story have its run through the keyboard for a month to see what happens. Experiment with some of those bits of advice that work for me.

December 31st, if the rest of Dreams of Freedom is still desperate to pour out of my skull, I can always alter the plan. Some alternate universe version of me may already have.

Be well, everyone.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Green Man’s Revenge

Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

So I’ve been working on a story for submission to the Urban Green Man anthology and I don’t think I’m going to make it for the November 30th deadline. Well, I’m going to have it finished, but it’s not going to work out. No, this isn’t me doing the editors’ job for them. If I can conform to the guidelines, I’ll send it, but…

The story is a good one, I think, the characters work, I’m hitting all of the points I wanted, and things are really coming together.

Yes, I left starting the story late, but that’s because I actually threw away three complete plots and tossed half a dozen more ideas for various reasons rather than writing the first thing that popped into my head. When the story I really want to write finally crystallized, I should still have had plenty of time.

Yes, I’ve actually missed a couple of days writing due to real world stuff going on lately and playing too much with my new website, but on the days I’ve worked on it, I’m averaging 750 words per day which isn’t a bad pace. If I were done the first draft right now, I’d have time for all of the editing and polishing I’d want to do—I have two days alone in the house before the deadline, but it would be nice to have the ‘fix what’s broken’ draft done by then so I could concentrate on spit and polish.

The problem is that I’m looking down the throat of the 5,000 word maximum allowed under the submission guidelines and I’m seeing the ¾ mark of the story. Things suck for the hero(s) and bad stuff is happening. The POV has what he needs, but hasn’t figured that out yet, and I have to crush his spirit just a little more before the big climax. It’s going to demolish the 6k barrier before I’m done.

Dude, you say, you only need to carve out a thousand words (or so) to squeak by. Yes, that’s true, or it would be if there weren’t notes sprinkled through the story that read something like {put this here} so I could fill in some details on the second draft. And I have layers to layer in so they’re not obvious. And then I have to erase my tracks and make it pretty. And then I have to read it out loud to make sure I haven’t missed anything stupid.

5,000 words? Not bloody likely. “With shorter stories preferred”? Yeah, I’m screwed.

But it’s a good story and I’m going to make it the best one I can, shooting for the deadline. If it’s not under budget, well, that’s okay. It’ll still be a good story.

For now, it’s well after midnight, but maybe I can squeeze a few more words in before the caffeine wears off.

Be well, everyone.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

If You’re Reading This…

Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

Then I’ve finally adjusted my profiles and made the partial switch to the new website, lanceschonberg.com.

I say partial because I’m keeping renaissanceninja.com, too. RN will be for personal adventures, but this website is where you’ll find all of my writing and related activities, and things that affect them. Whether that’s a wise division or not is a matter of some debate, both in the privacy of my own head and publicly among authors. It’s what I’m going with right now and the beauty of free will is that you can always change your mind later.

So that the new website isn’t completely content free up front, I’ve copied all of the writing related posts here from Renaissance Ninja. I may go back a little further and do the same with the writing related stuff from the old wordpress.com Small Realities blog (a title I still like, you may have noticed), as there are some interesting things in there, too.

For the moment, I’ve put things together enough that I can consider the site up and running. Yes, there are still a lot of things I want to do with it, some of which will be obvious on the surface of things and some of which will be behind the scenes to help me accomplish goals and stuff. I like the feel of the site so far, but please poke around and tell me what you think.

Oh, and I do have a third domain. That’s where The Adventures of Writing Dad podcast is going to happen. Tentatively in January, maybe sooner depending on how much audio work the real world lets me get done—I want to have a fair bet ready before I launch.

Be well, everyone.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather