December was all about focus. NaNoWriMo type focus, but without NaNoWriMo. A quick summary:
Spent a few minutes here and there tidying up the dictation to come up with a final clean word count of 64,779. And that’s 2,457 words higher than when I officially counted the story complete on November 26th.
A total of 16,781 words to finish the story off, deliberately truncating three chapters and throwing away one scene entirely, at a much shorter than the first book total of 103,919. The back half of this story was rough and I dragged through the writing. That tells me there’s something majorly wrong with it, but I’m not going to stress too hard about it with things still so fresh in my mind.
Picking up more or less where I left off, only now with a plot, I put 22,219 words into this in December. That’s actually quite a bit lower than I’d originally hoped, but I took a few days away from fiction writing around Christmas and didn’t even try to make up for it. Because Christmas, that’s why.
Zero words of short fiction. Next question.
Year of Trek Fiction
Kind of falling behind here, but still lots of time, I think. A year yet before things get started, right?
A little editing and a little plotting for 1,470 words combined. A bunch of blog posts, and a handful of other nonfiction things that no one will ever get to see, for a total of 15,956 words.
Total for the Month
It all totals up to a respectable 58,232 words for the month.
January slides into the new plan which I’ll discuss at some length in a couple of weeks, but the basic goals come down to:
- Finishing up the plotting on Becoming Alien, a book that may or may not be the first book of a trilogy, but that I’ve plotted and planned as a stand-alone novel.
- Revision notes for Universal Destiny. Yes, really. I hope.
- Research for My Cousin Hans has already started, but I’ve got so much to learn about the Danish Resistance in WWII, not to mention WWII itself. And Danish.
- Finishing Draugr Rising, which I think has about 20,000 words to go at this point, if I can find the several long hand chapters I’m missing. 30,000 if I can’t.
- A modest 12,000 words of short fiction, trying to get back to The Undead.
Like I said, there’s a new plan for 2015 and I’ll share the details of that in the days ahead, but I’m currently reworking it to fit not just long term goals, but a breadth of writing and other creativity I’d like to provide myself.
Oh, I’m still crazy, but that’s okay.
Be well, everyone.by
This is late in coming. March had some additional real world stresses built into it, as well as a vacation where I chose to spend the time with my kids rather than in front of the keyboard. No regrets on the latter, and most of the former has been lifted in the last few days. April will be better, but probably still below target. May should be back up to par, I hope, or even a little above.
But, for a very quick overview of what I actually did accomplish in February, 2014:
The Godhead, Book 1
15,062 words written of 30,000 target. Which is okay. I’m at 61% complete on my original outline and 75% my original word count for that point. Current projection says 117,000 words against the 94,500 estimate. Slight difference.
“Company of the Dead”
4th of the 4 planned fantasy novelettes finally complete at 18,202 words written and a scene I left unwritten because I decided it wasn’t necessary to the overall story. Might change my mind when I get to the editing point.
I’m still thinking about expanding this project, but over a longer term. There are plenty of subgenres to explore, and I’ve got thoughts on a couple of things that would fit into the 10-20,000 word zone.
It was a light month for short fiction for me, with another story started, but not finished, for The Undead. And pretty much no editing done on previous shorts.
Managed a whole five blog posts in March, a little bit of non-fiction, a little bit of script work on a new project and a revived one. The revived one could probably have waited for a year, but it felt good to have my hands back on it.
This category covers a grand total of 7,676 words, including blog posts (which takes in most of this one).
Total for the Month
26,082 words. Very light compared to the last few months, but still a decent total looking at the last couple of years. Considering life and the real world, this is perfectly fine.
Looking ahead, the goals for April:
- Back on track with 30,000 words on book 1 of The Godhead to getting within sight of the book’s finale. I’m debating now whether I do want to write all three backs one right after the other or work on something else for a couple of months in between. Still thinking.
- I’m looking for 10,000 words on stories for The Undead. Stretching here considering April’s slow start, but always aim high.
- Revision notes for Universal Destiny.
- Another shot at 10 blog posts for the month. This counts as one, and I know what four more of them are about, not that I’ve started writing them yet.
Wish me limber fingers.
Be well, everyone.by
Quick overview of writing accomplishments for the month of February, 2014.
The Godhead, Book 1
30,063 words written of 30,000 target. Barely dusted that one on the last day of the month, but I’m still pretty happy about it. As previously mentioned though, the story keeps getting a little more complicated. At just over 56k, I should be almost 60% through my original plot, give or take a few points. Based on my current projectsions, I’m looking at barely 47%. My forecast for overall length is leaning towards 120k now, a far cry from the 90 I’d first thought and the 95 I’d pretended to work with for a while.
“Company of the Dead”
4th of the 4 novelettes, still not complete at 16,042 words written of a projected 15,000 with the climax left to complete and the denouement to go after that. Might be looking at 20k again, maybe only 19k. So much for the novelette length, hmm?
Seriously considering expanding this project. I have a number of other subgenres I’d like to explore/mash and I feel comfortable doing it in the novelette to novella range.
Total short fiction work of 13,500 words, which was not what I planned. The actual target was only 9k here, and I put a little more than that just into “Company of the Dead”. The rest is made up of two shorter stories towards The Undead project. I also didn’t do an awful lot of editing this month.
But other fiction in chronological order of accomplishment:
Third draft of “Tabouli Breath”, a flash fantasy piece now at 639 words.
First draft of a ghost story flash for The Undead, still untitled at 1,173 words.
Second draft of “An Opening, Just Whiskers Wide”, getting a little longer to 2,911 words. A little fleshed out in a couple of spots and tidied up in others.
Did very little editing this month, putting the time into other things, and managed revision notes for the first two chapters of Universeal Destiny. Need to fix that if I want it to become a polished final project someday.
Non-fiction totalled 15,878 words, including blog posts (which takes in most of this one).
Total for the Month
59,861 words. This is a total that makes me quite happy, but says I should have stayed up just a couple of minutes later one night to hit the 60k mark.
Looking ahead, the goals for March:
Another 30,000 words on book 1 of The Godhead. This will (hopefully) get me somewhere very close to the ¾ mark.
Really, actually finish “Company of the Dead”. I’m only 2.5-3k away, so this shouldn’t be a problem, right?
Starting some significant work on The Undead collection stories. I have a couple of basic plots, but my current count says I still need 17 shorts and at least 9 flash pieces to round out to what I want.
Revision notes for Universal Destiny. I will do this in March.
Targeting 10 blog posts again for March, and three days more to do it in. Have written exactly this one so far.
At least two episodes of “Days of Geek”.
And there’s where we’re (I’m) at.
Be well, everyone.by
This is going to be quicker than usual, I think. Way too much going on.
The Godhead, Book 1
26,181 words written of 30,000 target. A clean miss, but a pretty good number. I’m also no longer projecting this as a 90k novel, but 100k. Surprise.
“A Gathering of Heroes”
3rd of the 4 novelettes, complete at 22,031 words of an originally projected 15,000. Interesting how that works. This makes exactly one of the 4 novelettes that’s actually fallen into novelette count. Not this one, obviously.
“Company of the Dead”
4th of the 4 novelettes, complete at 7,711 words written of a projected 15,000. And eight scenes left to write. How much would you like to bet this one’s going to hit 20k, too?
Total short fiction work of 14,448 words, surpassing the target by almost exactly what I missed the novel target by. There is balance here.
In chronological order of accomplishment:
Third draft of “The King’s Blessing”, taking it to 3,099 words.
Second drafts of two flash pieces: “The Werewolf Movie”, and “Alphabet Fantasy”.
Second draft of “The Vyrian Child”, now at 11,602 words. Not that big a change in length, but some heavy revisions inside the story. Intact, but reads much better.
Final draft of “The King’s Blessing”, now standing at 3,120 words.
Fleshed out the plotting of Book 3 of The Godhead. No more single sentence chapters in the outline.
Non-fiction including scripting for “Days of Geek”, blog posts (not that there were many), and several other things: 10,769 words.
Total for the Month
Not too shabby, considering:
I took three days off of primary fiction writing to re-start my podcast (“Days of Geek”)
There were actually seven days in total I spent no time on my primary fiction WIP (three of which I also ignored the secondaries). But I still wrote something every single day in the month of January. Makes me happy.
Always with the re-forecasting, me, but always in motion is the future and only the goals for February actually matter for the moment:
Another 30,000 words on book 1 of The Godhead.
Finish “Company of the Dead”. Pushing serious work on The Undead collection stories back another month, unless I finish CotD early. Not likely considering the last two supposed novelettes.
The Short Fiction Cleanup continues. Slowly. I have a couple of actual short stories (as in under 5,000 words) I’d like to finalize, but primarily I want to get the third draft of “The Vyrian Child” done.
Revision notes for Universal Destiny. This entails reading the story and making notes about all the things that are wrong or I want to change. The second draft is to fix these, and there will probably be a lot of them.
I’m going to shoot for 10 blog posts to go up in February. If I count this one, three of them are already written. I’m counting this one.
Two episodes (three, if I’m smart) of “Days of Geek” produced, but without taking all of my spare time for a week to do it.
Still cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. Which would be even more apparent if I mentioned a couple of other projects I’m thinking about.
Be well, everyone.by
Based on my 40s so far, projecting anything over an entire year is difficult. I’m going to try anyway. In the last three months of 2013, I proved I can maintain the pace needed to produce a significant body of work. I’d like to think the quality is high enough to be worth reading by someone who isn’t family. While I’ve sold short fiction in the past, and hope I continue to do so, the jury is still out on my novel length work, so I’m focusing a lot of effort there this year.
Writing Goals for 2014
Rather than setting a daily goal, I’ve got specific project goals. My “day” job lets me project out very well, at least in terms of what days I have off and whether I’m working days or nights. This lets me set daily or weekly targets and estimates of what is reasonable based on how much time I might have. Into this, I’ve fit projects with healthy safety margins.
The project list:
- The Godhead Trilogy – this was my goal to have plotted by the end of 2013. Successful, so now it’s time to write the books, one per quarter, finishing the third by the end of September, or so the theory goes.
- Becoming Alien – the fourth quarter novel. Yes, that means I intend to write four novels this year. This is a stretch goal. I’ll be more than happy just to finish the first draft of the Godhead.
- Skip To My Luu getting some tweaks and a little smoothing out.
- Manifest Destiny – Editing to beta reader stage. This is the biggest editing project for 2014.
- The Novelette Project – where I spent my drafting time in December, this is another major editing project for this year, but I need to finish the first drafts of the last two novelettes. One is close. One has at least 10,000 words to go.
- The Undead – zombies and vampires get all the love. They’ll be included in this collection of stories, but there are plenty of other undead monsters. Don’t expect an awful lot of horror here, though there may be some horrific elements. Planned as a 6-8 month stretch of short fiction with lengths varying from flash to novelette. I have a few stories that already qualify, but need something around 70k words to be where I want things to be.
- Speculative Emotion – beginning another themed collection of stories, these ones tied to the categorizations in Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions. Since there are 32 stories here, and short fiction gets far less focus than novel form for this year, Speculative Emotion is a longer term project, probably stretching 9-12 months and not starting until after The Undead drafts are finished, meaning this one starts late in the year and spills over into 2015.
- Short fiction clean up – furthering the polishing of the short fiction backlog. This is what becomes necessary when you just draft and don’t edit for a couple of years. But I get to pick and choose what I like.
Publishing Goals for 2014
Which I’m breaking into two groups.
- Small Realities 1-4. Small collections of my short fiction targeted at 28-30,000 words each and published in March, June, September, and December.
- “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.
These may look familiar. That’s because I wanted to do them last year. I still want to do them. We’ll try again. I may add a full novel to this list.
I’m going to shop three things this year
- Ancient Runes – I’m really pleased with how this turned out and want to try finding an audience for it.
- Graceland – a themed collection with each story inspired by a song from Paul Simon’s album of the same name.
- Heroes Inc. – 73,000 words of super hero novel.
As far as things go, I’m not sure I have the patience for traditional publishing, at least at the Big Publisher level. Dinosaurs who seem to be refusing to move into the 21st century for the most part. Processes stuck decades in the past, before computers, before the internet, before people learned to expect things to happen quickly. Smaller presses are quicker to adapt and quite a few of those are doing awesome work. I wonder if I can find the right publisher for my particular brand of awesome. If not, I’ve got a backup plan there, too.
And There You Have It
I have stopped to figure out an actual word count projection, and it’s crazy. Half a million words. Of fiction. Two and a half times what I actually achieved this year.
That doesn’t count editing, plotting, blogging, or my genealogy project. Really.
But all I need to do is continue the pace I’ve set for the last three months for another twelve. Simple, right?
I don’t usually make a lot of resolutions. Those I do, I tend to keep simple. There are usually a lot of goals, and I talk about those all over the place. Several posts about my writing goals for 2014 will be appearing in the next few days, for example, so I don’t need to cover those here, and I have karate goals and financial goals and cleaning the house goals, among others.
But I’m doing a bit more for resolutions this year. Sort of.
There’s always one, and it’s the first one on the short list that follows, but for a change there are others. None of them are terribly specific, and they certainly don’t count as SMART goals by any means. They’re designed to keep me in a good state of mind, which isn’t always easy for any of us. As a matter of fact, it’s damned hard sometimes, but challenge makes us stronger, right? Giving up is the biggest failure.
Resolution #1: Be better at the husband and father thing.
Right, how vague is that? But it’s not, really. It just means keeping my family uppermost in my mind. With practice, that’s slowly become easier, though I still slip once in a while, or get distracted. That makes me human. The point of the matter, and many people are fond of saying it: family first. Play, talk, teach, enjoy.
Resolution #2: Be kind.
It’s easy to let your emotions rule, to snap when you’re irritable or sleep-deprived (ask me about the second one of those) or even just say what you’re thinking. It’s harder, sometimes, to take a moment and be kind when you’re responding, especially when you’re responding to something that’s not what you hoped/expected it to be. Consider what might be in the other person’s head and heart for just a brief instant, or what they might be going through, and you’ll probably come up with a better response that works for both sides of the equation.
Extend this beyond responses, into initial actions. Say hello. Smile. Pet the cat whenever you walk by. Hold doors open for people. In general, think about what other living creatures need and want and appreciate, and go just a little out of your way to provide some of that.
Resolution #3: Be polite.
This goes hand in hand with resolution #2. Manners cost nothing, and think about this: people remember if you’re nice to them just as much as they remember if you’re a jerk to them. Which of those two things is likely to make the world around you (including your own life part of it) better? Set the good example wherever you can and expect the same of the people around you. Call them on it when you don’t get it. Just be polite about it.
Resolution #4: Read more.
I used to read a lot more (see my note on reading challenges for 2014). I probably won’t get to pre-children levels ever again. Well, maybe when I’m retired, if ever. But this resolution is more to make me think about what I’m doing with downtime, not that I get much of it. Television is easy and mindless, and most of it is stupid and a waste of time. Not all of it, but most of it. A lot of the time, I’d be better off with a book and I want to remember that.
Resolution #5: Think more.
Douglas Adams famously observed this about people in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: “If human beings don’t keep exercising their lips, their brains start working.” Less talk = more thought.
I think about things a lot, but I don’t see this as a bad thing even though it sometimes helps me dwell on things I can’t change in the past or worry about things that haven’t happened yet. The more you think about the possibilities that might come to pass, the more you’ll be prepared for the things that actually do happen.
Plus, while I may not be Vulcan, I firmly believe it’s better to control and channel your emotions than to be controlled by them.
2014, Here I Come
Another year begins today. It’s a marker on the calendar, nothing more. But that makes it a good place to take stock and set new benchmarks. I’ll turn 44 at the end of the year, and that’s a neat number and a good age.
But then, aren’t they all?
Be well, everyone.by
So I did the Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge this year, with the goal of reading more than I have been the last couple of years. I set a modest goal of 32 books, have counted 34 so far, and still have a couple of weeks (admittedly busy ones) to go.
But I’m thinking about next year.
There was a time, when my kids were small and slept more, when I didn’t spend much of my spare time writing, when I worked for a book retailer or in the aftermath of that career, I read more than 100 books per year. Before kids, before the internet, that number hit 200 some years. I don’t think I can get back to that any time soon. Maybe when I’m retired and the kids have all left me, but that’s years in the future and I still want to read now.
I’m thinking, for the 2014 Challenge (which hasn’t been announced yet), I’m going to set the bar at 50 books. But I need to broaden my horizons a bit and look at the reading goals I set last year and didn’t meet (6 of those 32 were supposed to be martial arts books—I’ve almost finished exactly one, but I semi-intentionally deviated from that goal, a subject for another day).
And there are a lot of other reading challenges out there, not always based on pure numbers, but on subjects or types of book, or any of thousands of other qualifications. I found one specifically that interests me, The 2014 TBR Pile Challenge. The basic idea here is to read at least 12 books (one per month) that have been in your To Be Read pile or list for at least a year. I can do that, maybe. There are a lot of books lying around here.
Here’s what I’m planning for 2014 overall:
6 Martial Arts
10 Non Fiction
The Fiction count neatly matches what I’ve already achieved this year, so that shouldn’t be a stretch, right? I broke Martial Arts out of Non-Fiction as I’m now over 3 ½ years into my training and learning to see things more deeply. It’s time to step up the scholastic aspect of the art for me.
And there are always books for Christmas, some of which I know are non-fiction this year because I picked them out.
50 books in 52 weeks. Doesn’t sound too hard, does it?by