• Writing

    Driving and Dictating

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    My favourite dictation app. Care of tascam.eu.

    I seem to be getting a little more comfortable with driving longer distances. Not that I’m ready to become a transport driver, or anything, but being able to sit in the car for several hours at a time is probably not a bad skill at this point my life. I have one child in university in the city that is about two hours away, door-to-door, and, parents that live almost as far away it almost the same direction, plus two more children who will be trying to figure out where they’re headed in the next few years as well. And it will not surprise me in the least if one winds up a couple hours in the opposite direction. Not necessarily to get away from their sibling, although I’m sure that’s a consideration. One of the places she’s looking at is potentially in the same city as the, but the way she’s discussing things so far, it’s not her preferred option.

    That’s okay. I can drive.

    I have, in the past couple of years, proven I can drive farther, although with a break every couple of hours. I’ve done as much eight hours one day. Actually, I did that twice in a four-day stretch, once to Krikland Lake and once back and, really, it was only eight hours because of those stops every couple of hours, plus a break for lunch.

    And, from a completely selfish perspective, if I’m driving by myself, I get to dictate.

    The last time I drove to Ottawa on my own, the transcript of my dictations for that trip, there and back, was just over 6000 words. That may not be quite what I would’ve gotten if I’d sat down to type for those four hours, straight, but it’s not too far off.

    Well, it is a little far off. Just typing, I expect to get 1500-1800 words in an hour. I’ve found that, on average, I come in at about 40 words a minutes when dictating. 40 words per minute, if I maintain the pace, is about 2400 words per hour. Maintain that whole paces for four hours, and that’s a potential of 9600 on a trip to Ottawa and back.

    2400 words per hour: I would actually be really, really happy with that kind of production sitting at the desk. That 1500-1800 works for me, and sometimes, when I’m really focused, it actually works it to be 2000 or touch more. But, now that I think about it, my daily commute covers just a touch more than an hour, and I frequently wind up in the 2600 to 2800 word range in the transcription files. Really, if I start dictating the incident in the car on and stop instantly turned off the other hand, I should get about an hour-four, or five. So 65 minutes times 40 words is about 2600. Right ballpark, sometimes little better. I like that.

    I think the issue when typing at the desk is that I have the easy ability to check on something if I feel the need to. Did I name that character Bob or Howard? Were Janine’s eyes blue or green? Is it Mills canyon with or without an apostrophe? And is that really the exact location I wanted to be close to Las Vegas, not the one in the Nevada? Hey, is it anyone’s birthday today? Did my scheduled blog post release at the right time?

    With the exception of the last couple, and there are a lot of other things I could put in as examples, if I’m dictating I will just open a bracket [ and dictate a note to check on the spelling or location or eye color or whatever later, and it magically becomes part of the editing process rather than interfering with my first draft. I think that’s probably one most of that stuff anyway. If I didn’t research in advance, frequently because I didn’t know I needed to, or can’t remember what I did with a certain character or certain number or certain anything, those just become the initial, already embedded in the text, comments for the revision notes my process.

    (Side note: for reference, because I think it’s been a while since I talked about my process [insert link to the appropriate post here], my basic draft hierarchy before I consider something ready for other eyes is: story dump, find what’s wrong, fix what’s wrong, make it pretty, read it out loud. I don’t consider the “find what’s wrong” phase be a separate draft, although the word count can change, sometimes significantly, depending on the accuracy of the dictation (if any) involved in the first draft. But I’m generally just flagging things to be fixed later and tidying up the easiest transcription stupidities in that phase. I’m not doing anything substantial to the text.

    But I keep running back to that 2400 words per hour. That last trip, I didn’t use the whole time on dictating. I spent a big chunk of it listening to a couple of episodes of my favorite podcasts and a couple of chapters worth of an audiobook. The fact that I listen to most things at double the recorded speed doesn’t change the fact that I took away some significant time that I could have used for dictation. It could easily have been a couple of thousand words more. I could have been a couple of thousand words further ahead right now in one project or another.

    I’m at the very beginning of another solo drive to Ottawa and I’m going to attempt to use the entire time for dictation this round. I wonder if I can actually break the 10,000 word mark?

    Wish me luck.

    Be well, everyone.

    (Update on the morning of the 12th: the dictation file came in at 12,773 words for a total of 4 hours 38 minutes 27 seconds of dictation. I made a side trip to visit my parents for a while before heading on to the primary destination of my son’s house.)

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  • Life

    Time for a Mid-Life Crisis

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherIt’s the first of November, 2018 and I’ve decided that it’s time for my midlife crisis.

    Nice bombshell, eh?

    Now, I say midlife crisis, but mine is not going involve a sports car or plastic surgery or a 20-year-old girlfriend, or anything stupid like that. Mine is coming a reorganization of priorities and some significant goal setting. Some of those goals I’ve already started to work in earnest towards, while some are just getting started and some which a brand-new.

    The high points, and there isn’t going to be a lot of detail on some of these as there are things to consider and build in the background:

    1. By my 50th birthday, I want to have completely revamped my career. My current career, my writing career, and maybe my own business on the side.
    2. Also by my 50th birthday, although I’d like this happen sooner, I want to be living in the house we’re going to retire in.
    3. To go along with the living in a house I want to retire in, there will be a second property. Not an investment property, exactly, but a property in Ottawa, where one, possibly two, and who knows, maybe even three of my children will go pursue post-secondary education. This is not so much an investment or us as it is for them. We will file the paperwork, jump through the troops, and charge the rent. Landlords, in effect, for a child of our own and several of their friends. The objective here is not money for our pockets, because we’re doing okay, all things considered, but to use the equity built up into the eventual sale of that property to cover as much of their accumulated student debts as possible. Our situation, financially, as never been what either set of our parents enjoyed. It’s never really had the possibility of it, economically, generationally, situationally. So we don’t have the extra income and haven’t managed the save enough along the way to get them completely through college or university debt free. But, if we sell our house for the right amount, and buy our retirement property for the right amount, we can, essentially, transfer our debt to another property and have the rent the kids are paying into it cover the mortgage and other fees, so that three or five or however many years later, when our last child is out, we sell the house, even if the market is crappy, get equity back out of it to pay down previously mentioned debt. I’m liking this plan more and more the longer I think about it. But it’s going to take a lot of work to get there.
    4. I’ll mention the writing goals, but I’m not going into a lot of detail. Currently, there is a one, three, five, and 10 year plan. The details get fuzzier the longer the time frame so that I can re-forecast easily, and I’m making adjustments due to other goals.
    5. I’ll also mention martial arts goals so they’re here, but I’m unlikely to share most of those out loud.
    6. I want to travel. I mean more than just go and hang out someplace for a week or so. My wife and I have talked several times about the idea of getting a teaching English as a foreign language certification and spending a year in Japan, a year in South America, a year in Africa.
    7. I want to get involved in some significant conservation programs, during the years when not traveling, working to stabilize local endangered species. At the moment, I have in my head to study, and incubate eggs for eventual release, Blanding’s Turtle and the Grey Ratsnake, which are both listed as endangered and both exist, in theory, locally. There are plenty of species that need assistance, mainly due to human encroachment on habitat and our essentially destructive ways as a species, and maybe I should help a little.
    8. I will become politically active. Keeping those plans in the background for now.

    So, my midlife crisis looks mostly like I just want to find enough focus to achieve things I’ve already been thinking about. I’ve said it before, but with 48 only a couple of months from now, and 50 close enough on the horizon that I can see it from where I’m standing, I may be half done. Well, I suppose it’s possible that I’m far more than half done and just don’t know it yet, but assuming good health and remaining accident free, and gentle improvements in medical technology, I may be half done.

    There’s stuff to do, important stuff, and as the children grow and spread out, the second half of my life needs to be meaningful in expanded and different ways than the first half.

    Some of these need some serious planning, some need some new perspective, some need a lot of work, and some need a lot of thought. Mind, body, spirit. Everything needs to be built and satisfied. Family, career, writing, karate, experience.

    Be well, everyone.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

  • Writing

    2014 Writing Goals

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherBased 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.

    Indie Publishing

    • 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.

    Traditional Publishing:

    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’m nuts.

    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?

    Yup. Nuts.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

  • Writing

    2013 Writing Recap

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherIt’s been a turbulent year in some ways, but I’ve had worse in recent memory. Creatively speaking, the year has had equal parts frantic activity and abysmal nothingness. It rounds out not too badly.

    First, a quick re-cap, pulling a few choice bits of information from blog posts and plans of a year ago and reality measured up.


    Writing Goals for 2013

    1,000 words per day of new fiction, totalling 365,000 words, but with the relaxing caveat of every day being a new one and only the new target matters.

    Somewhere in this total, the first draft of Tashiik Dreams or Dreams of Freedom.


    • I wrote no new fiction for almost half the year. Between 20 April at 01 October, I managed a grand total of 3,290 words of fiction, and none at all in June, July, or August. In September, I stopped feeling sorry for myself and started to put things back together, kicking things into high gear. The end of the year fiction count still came in at 200,432 words, beating 2012 by almost 60k and coming within striking distance of 2011’s word count.
    • I didn’t write either Tashiik Dreams or Dreams of Freedom.
    • I did, however, write Universal Destiny, which might be the first book in a series or might stand well on its own. I’m leaning towards at least a couple more stories in the universe.


    Editing Goals for 2013

    • Skip To My Luu getting some tweaks and a little smoothing out.
    • Warforge: Caledonia to get a second draft.
    • Ancient Runes to go through multiple drafts and be ready for beta readers by the end of the year.
    • Tashiik Dreams or Dreams of Freedom (whichever got the first draft done), second draft.


    • Skip To My Luu never got touched.
    • Something about Warforge: Caledonia is broken. I set it down near the end of April and didn’t pick it up again. I’m still not sure what isn’t working for me.
    • Ancient Runes is ready for beta readers. Now I just need beta readers.
    • Since I finished Universal Destiny near the end of November, I haven’t gotten to the second draft yet.

    Publishing Goals for 2013

    • 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. 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.


    • Epic fail. Did none of them.


    So, some good, some bad. Mostly not so good, though.

    However, I feel like I picked up the ball and hit my stride in the last quarter of 2013, and I’m going to try to maintain that in 2014. This year’s goals are extremely aggressive and will include some of last years. I’ll post about those tomorrow.

    Be well, everyone.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

  • Writing

    Set a New Writing Goal Day

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherFor those of you taking note of the Year of CelebrationTM, Tuesday (Februay 19th) was Set a New Writing Goal Day. Yes, a totally made up holiday, it falls on the 50th day of the year, a good day, I thought, to review goals for the year and adjust them if they seem too unrealistic in one direction or the other.

    My overall writing goals for the year, while aggressive, still looked doable. January started slow in terms of hitting targets, but February seemed to be a month for good, solid performance and I felt like I’d hit every target for the second month of the year. I skimmed through things and made the quick judgement that I’d leave my goals as they were for now.

    I still think I’m going to hit every target for this month. Well, every target but one. I’m supposed to be on a quest for cover art for what I consider one of the most important goals this year: Small Realities. At least I thought I considered it an important goal for the year, but at the moment I’m asking myself how I’m going to put out the first issue in March if there’s no cover art.

    So I’ve reforecast things starting after we come back from a family vacation in March (still kind of in the planning stages, but I think we’ve got tickets and a house sitter). The daily targets are going to get left alone between now and then, but after that, I’m going to streamline and scale back a little for a couple of (several/few/nine or ten) months, focusing on second and third drafts of Ancient Runes and Warforge: Caledonia. The “fix what’s broken” draft of Ancient Runes is already almost 2/3 done. I still hope to get the first draft of Dreams of Freedom done by the end of the year, but I’m not going to stress over it and I’m not going to push for the second one. Short fiction will continue at the relaxed pace I’ve already set.

    So if I’ve freed up time, what fills it in? Surely finding some cover art can’t be that big a job.

    Well, I do still need to teach myself about formatting for all of the major platforms, and Small Realities isn’t the only thing I want to publish this year. Thorvald’s Wyrd, Turn the World Around, possibly Graceland, and a Seekrit Projekt that involves a whole lot more art than your standard book. And there’s another thing I’d really, really like to do, but that comes under the heading of Sooper Seekrit Projekt.

    But, I also have to make sure that the podcasting project with my daughter has plenty of available time for recording, mixing, editing, etc. Coming soon to an MP3 capable device near you! We’ve done all of the test recording we probably need to do and have set up an easily modifiable recording environment. Episode 0 will happen this weekend, and maybe even Episode 1. We’re going to record at least the first six before we start releasing, to make sure we really have fun doing it.

    And I can’t neglect my other two children or my wife.

    Change any of your writing goals recently?Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

  • Reading

    Reading Goals for 2013

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherAnd, 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

    Publishing Goals for 2013

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherPart 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

  • Writing

    Editing Goals for 2013

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherAdded 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

    Writing Goals for 2013

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherSo, 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