About six weeks earlier than I planned, I’ve started drafting fiction again. It’s not, so far as I can tell, affecting the editing progress I’ve planned to make in the same period, which probably means I’m neglecting something else slightly, so I’m going to keep at it.
It’s only been going on about a week so far, and I’m not dedicating a huge amount of time for it, but it’s making me happy. There’s a particular kind of pleasure in crafting new words that’s different than the pleasure I get from polishing and rearranging existing ones. Yes, I’ve still got a lot (A LOT) of catch up to do on the editing side, but I’ve made a lot of inroads this year, especially since COVID, and I feel like I never want to get to the point where I’ve completely caught up. What fun would that be?
To offset the Star Trek novella I’m working on (based on an audio drama script that I’m not likely to ever produce as an audio drama) that will probably come in at somewhere between 25 and 30,000 words when fully edited (6k into the first draft so far), I’m trying my hand at flash length for the first time in quite a while.
I missed on the first one at a little over 1300 words and tentatively titled “Psychic Drugs”. It should also probably be several hundred words longer than it is since I deliberately scaled back to almost nothing but conversation in the last quarter of the story trying to finish it in one session. Reminder: don’t rush yourself. The story would have worked better if I’d taken the time to flesh it out in the first draft. Now I have to fix it in post.
The second attempted flash piece, “Computer Core”, is probably also not going to squeak in under the 1000-word mark that traditionally marks flash fiction. By the time this posts, I’ll know that for sure, but as I write this, “Computer Core” is the next thing in the keyboard queue, and my rough idea of how long it’s going to take to finish the story is a little more space than the almost 600 words I’ve already put into it. Which, based on past history, means it will probably come close to 1500 words by the time it’s done.
Time for more typing.
Stay safe, and be well, everyone.by
There’s been a bit of a gap, but I’m kicking the serials back into gear.
By the time this posts, two of them will have started already, and the third should be launching tomorrow. Covers all link to the serials on Wattpad.
First up, “Trollsign”.
Sorry. I’m tentatively using the first cover but I really like minimalism of the second, and they both make sense in context of the story. “Trollsign” is a 13,000-word novelette with 14 scenes. Several of those are really short, so I think the serial is likely to happen in 10 releases. New scenes release on Wattpad on Wednesdays and started on February 19th.
Next, a novel-length serial, Heroes Inc.
Heroes Inc. we’ve talked about before and it’s available on Amazon, but the sequel will be ready shortly and the third book in the trilogy is drafted. I’d love for folks to read all three. This first one was probably the most fun I ever had semi-plotting a novel. Except for the basic resolution, I tried never to have more than the next three scenes worked out in advance. Serializing on Wattpad with new chapters released on Fridays until complete.
Finally, I’m slipping back into the Star Trek fanfic world again, and I’m not planning on stepping away from it for a while, though I’ve got some tentative ideas for stories in other universes, too. In this case:
A 4200-word short featuring Commander Scott in the early days of the Enterprise refit before Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Serializing on Wattpad beginning on 23 February 2020. New scenes releasing on Sundays.
Previous serials are still available. At this point, I have no expectation of taking them down.
In the short fiction category (by which I mean anything under 40k words, although trend is anything over 25k is a short novel and I kind of like that): “Babysitting the Taran-Saurus”, “Thorvald’s Wyrd”, and Turn the World Around.
For novels, only Skip to My Luu is up.
And for ST fiction, you get Between a Rock and a Klingon (21k starring Chekov), “Breath Control” (6.7k starring Dr. Chapel), “Wolves and Sheepdogs” (5.4k starring Lt. Leslie), and Fractured Unity (with a novel-sized cast).
Happy reading and be well, everyone.by
by Yesterday, I wrote my first words of new fiction in about three and a half months. 261 of them. It felt so good, I wrote 270 more today.
Now, I have been doing some fiction work, but it’s all been editing, and mostly short stories. I’ve also been writing quite a bit of non-fiction, philosophy, family history, a few book reviews, and the occasional blog post like this one. But nothing like the pace I set for most of last year. In fact, last year, if I total things up, had almost 700,000 words in it and 450,000 of those were fiction.
This year has 117,000 so far, which puts me on pace to brush up against 300,000. Not exactly a good follow up, but probably still a pretty good year, overall.
I’ve got lots of reasons, and some excuses. Family, career, karate, volunteer work at the shelter, busy life. Too many ideas and the inability to settle on one of them. I’ve been trying to figure some things out about the mental and philosophical space I’ve moved into. I’ve been tired, burnt out, need to rest. I get bored easily. I joke about having adult onset ADD (which might be less of a joke than I think, but only in certain neural pathways).
The truth of the matter is, for whatever reason, I haven’t felt like it.
And I have that luxury at the moment, the luxury of letting the stories and characters bounce around my brain and flesh themselves out as long as my subconscious, and conscious, feels like working with them. I don’t have to put them down on paper, tablet, or computer.
After all, I still have all of those other stories I have written that need to find homes (note to self: get on that, will you?) and a couple of novels that might actually be worth reading to someone else (three out of eleven drafted, of course, only those three have been edited and polished).
Except I’ve been getting itchy again.
So I started a new story yesterday, one that’s almost certainly a novel-length story. And it’s scratching that itch, so I’m going to keep doing it.
Secondary world heroic fantasy with tastes of late 17th or early 18th century technology at the end of an ice age.
I’m not sure what kind of pace I’m going to work towards on this, but it doesn’t matter as long as I’m enjoying the story. Wish me luck.
Be well, everyone.by
by So if you’ve been reading (or even just noticing) my monthly writing reports, you’ll probably have the impression that I’ve been getting a lot of writing done for about a year now. And I am. I’m closing in on half a million new words of various sorts for 2014, but most of it is raw first draft because I haven’t been able to squeeze nearly as much editing time out of my life as I’d like.
But that’s okay. All of those words will be waiting for me when I can get to them. I’m trying to find a little time lately, but life has been giving me a few extra balls to keep in the air. (Insert circus music here.)
And, in fact, most of what I’ve written has been non-fiction for the month of September, and a far larger share than I originally expected for the three months before it. I’ve been struggling to get in a fiction frame of mind a lot lately, and I miss exploring ideas and creating new worlds. I need to get back to fiction.
To help me out on both fronts, I think I need a goal or two, as if I haven’t got enough of those already. My thought right now is that it’s been an awfully long time since I’ve put any fiction up for general consumption. So perhaps it’s time to change that.
Starting Friday, I’m going to serialize “Babysitting the Taran-Saurus”. Near future SF, it’s a 12,000-ish word novelette that breaks fairly well into ten pieces with lengths ranging between 700 and 1500 words.
It’s also still being edited.
You see, I think I need a time crunch, something to force me along the road to getting this story done and polished, to get me motivated on the fiction side of things and back into the groove. Knowing that I want to put a new piece of “Babysitting” up on the website every Friday (because that’s when new scenes will come out, starting October 3rd) might be that little push to get things done.
Call this announcement number one. I’ve got more planned.
So stay tuned.
And be well, everyone.by
by Once upon a time, there was a teenager named Lance. Growing up in the pre-Internet era, Lance was still quite fond of media: TV, movies, and especially books and music. He read voraciously, started to figure out writing (though that would mostly come later), and always had the radio or a record or cassette playing in the background. This as the 1980s. There would eventually be CDs, but they were expensive in the early days and he didn’t have a CD player until the summer he was nineteen.
In the fall of 1986 he heard, “You Can Call Me Al” on the radio. Without knowing exactly why, he found it turning into one of his favourite songs and he bought Graceland on cassette as soon as his finances would allow.
And so it began.
It’s hard to say how many times I listened to Graceland, but I knew all the lyrics to every song within a week or two, and had my heart broken when the cassette got eaten a few years later. I immediately replaced it with a CD version, which I still have and from which I made MP3 versions of the songs for my iPod, and now in my phone. Yes, they’re all in my playlist.
In early July of 2009, listening to “The Boy In the Bubble”, I got the germ of an idea for the story that would eventually become “Miracles and Wonder”. Six months or so later, I wrote the first draft of “Pilgrimage” after something tickled the back of my brain listening to the title track, “Graceland”.
“Light Pressure” came near the end of 2010 with “Dancing in the Rain” following before too long. By then, I had an end goal in mind: there would be a story inspired by every song on the album. Perhaps, if they eventually proved worthy, they might become an e-book or a even, dare I contemplate, a podcast.
The rest of the stories were written across 2011, a strange and tumultuous time in my life, but they got written. In the first few months of 2012, I edited, polished, then edited some more until each of the 11 stories made me happy.
After which, I put them away for a few months. Letting things rest for a while helps me approach them with fresh eyes. When I read through them in October of 2012, I was still happy. Oh, I made some minor changes here and there, different word choices or alterations to punctuation, but nothing big. I started to think about what I should do with them.
But then, oddly, I put them away again. Yes, I had the intent to publish or perhaps submit them, but I never did. At this point, it’s been long enough that I felt the need to do another read through, and I’m glad I did. I made a few tiny tweaks here and there, some word choice changes, really but nothing big. The stories stayed the same.
Well, all but one which suffered a couple of structural alterations but kept the story intact. “Fingerprint Dreams”, the last story in the sequence, had a couple of odd POV shifts, with the main protagonist dropping into first person for what were essentially either interviews or flashbacks. I found this jarring when I read the story, and liked it less than I used to, so I changed them. As a result, the story got almost five hundred words longer, breaking over that magical 10k mark. It’s still the same story, but I think those scenes flow better now and the reader gets more out of them.
But I’m done reading, and that brings me back to what should I do with them? Try to find a publisher? Submit them to markets individually? Publish them myself? Publish them myself and send a copy to Paul Simon?
For the moment, I think I’ll go pop a certain CD in the player, but I’d welcome any thoughts or input.
Be well, everyone.by
by So, I don’t consider myself a Horror writer. Science Fiction and Fantasy usually fall into my keyboard. My heart belongs to them, reading and writing.
It’s not that I have anything against Horror, because I don’t, and not solely because it’s not my way to piss on other people’s art. Although that’s a nice rule to add to your personal book.
But I don’t enjoy being disturbed by my entertainment. I get enough of that from my reality, thanks.
No, I should correct that. I’m not interested in being disturbed by my entertainment when that’s its sole or primary purpose. There’s nothing wrong with having disturbing situations in a story to advance the story or particularly having your villains do disturbing things. The first can do wonders for your characters’ development. The second can do that, and may your readers cheer when the villains get what they deserve. (And they should get what they deserve. I have a personal preference for happy endings, but it’s more important that they be satisfying endings. If you can save or redeem the villain, that can be okay, too.)
When the primary purpose of the disturbing situation is to disturb your reader, I have to ask, what’s the point? What do you get out of it as a writer? What does your reader get out of it? What is the message you’re trying to give?
Because there’s always a message, whether you intend to give one or not. And people will read things into it that you didn’t put there. That’s one of the beautiful things about being a writer: not everyone sees or reacts to things the same way.
I have written Horror, and I have sold a couple of Horror stories. I may do both again. In fact, I’ve got a couple of submission out right now to Horror markets. But I don’t read it much and I don’t watch it much. When I do, it’s because I’ve been promised by sources I trust that there’s more to the story.
On those rare occasions I’m writing in Horror mode, I don’t promise not to disturb you, but I do promise there’s a reason for it. For my part, when I’ve written Horror, the character(s) learn something or figure something out. At least the ones who survive. And maybe the ones who don’t, as well.
My own published examples, I think, back me up. First, three stories I’ve published that have been classified as horror (mostly by someone else, but remember that labels are personal), along with my intention when writing it:
“Absence of Garlic”, published in the October 2009 issue of Bards & Sages Quarterly. Sort of Vampire Noir.
“Common Ground”, published in Alienology: Tales of the Void by Library of Horror Press in May 2011. Deep space SF action on a derelict alien space ship.
These next three, I did intend to be Horror when writing writing them. All are weird (one is icky). All might be disturbing, depending on your experience and perspective. But all were written with the intent to be something more than that. Of course, your mileage may vary. I’m just the writer. It’s the reader’s impression that really matters.
“Worm Bait”, published in the Dead Bait 3 e-anthology from Severed Press in June 2012.
“Mummy Powder”, posted as a 7-part serial here in 2012. Still completely free and a good read, if I do say so myself.
(With the exception of “Mummy Powder” and Baconology, everything here also has an e-book version on Kindle and Nook, if you’re interested.)
So that’s my perspective as a writer, backed up with my own examples. Anyone else have any thoughts on horror for horror’s sake? Agree or disagree that there needs to be more?
Be well, everyone.by
by So as I look back through my writing log, I find that there’s been about exactly 275 words of new fiction since I finished a flash piece on May 29th. Oh, I’ve written. Blog posts in the main, at least recently. Book reviews, scripting and show notes for Days of Geek. But not fiction.
The summer was weird, though it did have a fair bit of editing involved, most of it on a single project that’s now only a handful of days from being finished the third draft. I’ve got lots of other things to edit, too, but I suddenly, finally, desperately need to work on something new.
So I dusted off the fragment of an idea I had a while back and turned it into a super bare bones story kernel. Beginning, a handful of major plot points, and end. Stretching that out, I filled in a few phrases in between to get a very rough scene breakout. Voilà, a 255-word outline.
Okay, not exactly an outline, but the beginnings of one. I took a little time each day in the back half of September to turn that basic framework into a real outline. Over the course of the last two weeks, it’s grown from 24 Chapters to 26 and some of those will get broken up because I’ve settled out to 37 scenes and usually like those to be self contained chapters.
It’s now a 5200-word outline for a Science Fiction novel with a working title (Manifest Destiny) and I’m going to start writing it tomorrow. The catch: I want to finish the first draft by the end of the year.
My estimates show about a 60,000 word short novel. Based on past experience with my estimates, it should actually come in somewhere between 66 and 69k. So let’s assume the upper end of that 69,000 words / 92 days = 750 words per day. In the past, when I’m struggling to get the words out, that’s about 45 minutes. I think I can cover it.
I hope I can cover it.
Wish me luck, because I’m still doing the podcast thing while I’m at it and I have lots of editing to do. And plotting the next project. And a full time job, and three kids, and… well let’s just say a life.
But the next three months are a test. Can I get back into the groove, and can I get far enough into it that I go back to working on more than one project at a time? (Sooper Sekrit Projekt still a possibility).
The reason I need to know that is that I want to get to the point where I can replace some or all of my income through creative endeavors. Yes, I know that’s everyone’s goal, but I’m not getting any younger (who is?). Enough waiting, enough stalling, enough excuses. Time to get to work.
If the next three months are successful, I’ve got a serious year planned for 2014.
Manifest Destiny begins tomorrow.by
I’ve finally started, picking a ‘get my feet wet’ project to begin with, a 13,000-word fantasy novelette I wrote a couple of years ago. Thorvald’s Wyrd is a good trial piece in a lot of ways, but there are two big ones.
First, it’s only 13,000 words. That should make it an audio project with a clearly visible end right from the beginning.
And second, the scenes in the story are very short, exactly 100 words long apiece. I’ve broken it up into 10 episodes of 12-14 scenes each with nice little cliffhangers for every episode but the last one. I don’t know if that could have worked out better with planning.
Oh, and third, the non-immediate family feedback I’ve had on the story prior to now has been almost universally good, so I’m comfortable putting it out there. In fact, it’s already out there as a long series of blog posts.
The process is a little more involved than you might think if you’ve never thought of podcasting before, but I’ve simplified it down to 8 steps for my own piece of mind.
- 1. Scripting: the story is in its final form, but here is where I go through and highlight every speaking characters lines in different colours (there are only four with more than one line of speech). I’m planning effects on a couple of voices and may want to get a woman to speak for Sunna to avoid any falsetto issues.
- 2. Planning. This is the figuring out of what I need to do for the story to fit a podcast format. Episode length, intro and outro, and so on.
- 3. Hosting. One needs a place to put the audio files for other people to be able to download them.
- 4. Theme music. That fits the podcast. I’ve got a couple of awesome possibilities, but I’m not sure how rights will shake out at this point.
- 5. Artwork. Needs to be eye catching and appropriate. Still on the list.
- 6. E-book formatting. I need a few more self-study sessions before making the first run at this, but I want to have an ebook available when the podcast launches. Toying with the idea of print, too, but it is only a 13,000 words long.
- 7. Production. Broken down into steps by episode, see below.
- 8. Marketing. Not that I plan a huge marketing campaign, but I will be talking about it and posting about it pretty regularly in the weeks before, during, and for a while after it runs.
Steps 1-3 are taken care of. Step 7 is in progress. Step 8 I’m going to suck at, but I can probably blame most of that on everything else going on in my life.
On a production basis, episode by episode, it’s a fairly straightforward process:
- 1. Record. Find a quiet place and talk into a recording device for a while.
- 2. Edit. Test runs have shown me that between long, drawn out pauses and having to repeat things I screw up, what I record will be just a little bit less than twice as long as the final product. All that extra stuff has to come out.
- 3. Voices and Effects. I’m not going to be doing special effects, but I am adjusting some character voices. This will require a little re-recording of certain lines to paste into the reading. There may be a little processing, too so the voices fit how I think things sound in my head. And, like I said earlier, I think it might be beneficial to have an actual woman play the female character. This might get a little more difficult with the next project as it has several significant female characters. And even more so with the novel I have planned where two of the three primaries are women. But I really don’t think I want to get into the whole full cast thing because time commitments go up exponentially.
- 4. Intro and Outro. These need to be recorded once each, probably, and then added to the front and back of each episode.
- 5. Upload. And schedule for timed release. I plan to have the whole thing done. Before Christmas would be nice, and I think quite manageable.
At this moment:
Episode 1-2: Edited
Episodes 3-4: Recorded
Episodes 5-10: Scripted
There will probably be a short blooper real after the fact (I’ve got a couple of good ones already), and potentially a feedback episode, if I get any.
Once Thorvald’s Wyrd is complete, I’m going to breathe a little bit before I start working on my second audio fiction project, slotted to be my 35,000 word novella, Turn the World Around. Like Thorvald’s Wyrd, it also appeared as a serial on my blog and I’m pretty happy with it. (Although a couple of recent news events threaten to make a small piece of it alternate history at any moment.)
The third project will be either an 80k+ word novel or a roughly equivalent in length collection of short fiction. Whichever isn’t the third will be the fourth. After that, we’ll see.
At least, that’s the plan. And Life has flipped around many of my plans in the last few years, which is why I’m not publicly attaching time frames to any of them. Make no mistake though, I have time tables I’d like to hit and they’re probably more aggressive than they should be considering recent experience.
Still, shoot for the stars and you might just make the moon.
Be well, everyone.by
by 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.by
by A quick little bite of fiction for Friday…
The doorbell rang.
Harvey stared at the front door, dreading what might stand on the other side. What horror might await the unwary? A salesman? Perhaps one thinly disguised offering a prize or special discount. Or the young variety, fundraising with chocolate or magazines. Perhaps someone canvassing for charity? A politician? It might even be the dreaded invitation to a local church.
The doorbell rang.
It could be worth a man’s wallet, life, political allegiance, or immortal soul to answer the door.
The doorbell rang, but Harvey didn’t answer. He didn’t even bother to bark. The rug was too comfortable.by