• Writing

    July Writing Accomplishments

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    I will try to keep it brief this month, though we all know that’s hard for me. As far as writing goes, it’s a shorter list of accomplishments than last month, but I’m okay with that. I’ve been spending a little more time on the to do list and a little less writing, and the stuff I got done made me happy.

    Writing accomplishments:

    1. Smog Alert 1st Draft. Star Trek fanfic. Kirk and Spock are at a tactical conference while Sulu, in command, ferries some scientists to New Aberdeen.
    2. Tholian Rescue 1st Draft. The Enterprise picks up a distress call from a Tholian ship.
    3. Time Travel Sucks 1st Draft. Why even 1986 might get tiring after a while.
    4. An Ethical Debate 1st Draft in progress. A short-ish science fiction tale about an alien species wanting to strike a deal with a woman who lives alone. I thought I’d actually be done this but keep leaving it in favour of other items. That should tell me something about the story.
    5. Fallen Heroes Final Draft. Which means I can get ready to slot the third volume in the Citizen Trilogy into the queue for publication.
    6. Warforge 1 – Harold’s Story 3rd Draft, bringing all three Caledonia novels to a third draft status.
    7. A total of 22 blog posts published, giving me a weekly average of 5 for July.

    After not doing a very good job on the publishing side last month, I managed a few things in July.

    1. The Undead: More Than Just Brains and Hauntings – talked about this one a lot last month, I think, so I don’t feel the need for more at the moment, but it’s finally out.
    2. Haiku – the collection. Still needs a tpb formatted, but available as an ebook.
    3. “Common Ground” – in the void between the stars, there are lenty of things that have been lost over the millennia. Sometimes finding them is profitable, and sometimes it’s dangerous.
    4. “Career Aspirations” – while on vacation, Lieutenant Commander Sulu has some doubts about his career path.
    5. “Footprints in the Dust” – scheduled to drop on August 8th, it’s done, uploaded, and ready to go.

    Overall, a good month. While the total word count didn’t quite reach 26k, I’m happy with the progress I made and look forward to August being at least as productive. I won’t share specific word count goals, but I will say that there should be a novel and two shorts hitting the ebook list during the month. Looking ahead to the fall, well, as a wise Muppet once said, always in motion is the future. I have plans, but I’ll reforecast every month based on reality at the time.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Life,  Philosophy

    Year of Celebration – July 2017

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherThe Year of Celebration Continues!

    July has some odd and interesting holidays and awareness days. Plus one or two things that are a little more personal. Here’s what I’m celebrating in July.


    01 July – Canada Day (and Canada is 150)

    So it’s Canada’s 150th birthday this year. On this day in 1867, the British North America Act took effect, creating the Dominion of Canada as a separate nation and setting up the basic functionality of the Canadian government system. A sesquicentennial may not make Canada old as far as nations go, but it’s a mark worth celebrating.


    02 July – World UFO Day

    Ever seen a UFO? No, I don’t mean aliens landing to make crop circles. The U stands for Unidentified, as in Unidentified Flying Object, as in an object in the sky that you can’t identify. I saw one as a kid living in Sudbury. Pretty sure at this point that it was a weather balloon of some kind launched from the airbase we lived near, but at the time, it was a distinct dark circle against a light cloud cover, moving just a little differently than the clouds themselves.


    03 July – Plastic Bag Free Day

    While I find the 5-cent charge for a plastic bag at most places has certainly decreased my plastic bag consumption (and data seems to bear this out for almost everyone), I’m moving in the direction of refusal to use them at all. We have a couple of dozen heavy-duty reusable bags, and I don’t mind cardboard from the grocery store when it’s available.

    It’s also Disobedience Day. Which doesn’t mean you should go out and break the law or do something just for the sake of being disobedient to some rule or authority. What it does, or should, mean is that you should take the time to break a mould or habit. Take a different route or method to work. Refuse to settle into your normal habits and try something new or twist something into a new path. Disobey your own ingrained ruts.


    04 July – Independence from Meat

    I’m not telling you to become a Vegetarian or Vegan, though if you’re considering moving in that direction, you could look at this as drawing your attention to the idea a little more forcefully. There are health benefits to be found be decreasing the amount of meat in your diet. There are environmental benefits to be found in farming less meat. There are also gains to be made in the number of people who can be fed by farming less meat. Think about it for one day.


    05 July – Bikini Day

    Seriously? This is a thing? How about we celebrate Wear Whatever Makes You Happy Day instead?


    06 July – International Kissing Day

    Kissing has a lot of different levels and meanings. Pick one and kiss someone today. Make sure you have permission first.


    07 July – Tell the Truth Day

    The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off. I don’t recommend telling only the truth for the entire day, because that isn’t what every situation needs. Does my ass look fat in these jeans? How do you like my son’s band? I just got a new piercing, what do you think? None of these are likely to warrant a strictly honest answer.

    But if there’s something that’s been bothering you, that you’ve been keeping under wraps so that it sizzles in your guts, maybe it’s time to come clean and talk to whoever else might be involved, being honest about how you feel and being kind to them.


    08 July – Video Games Day

    Yeah, like I need to find a reason to celebrate this one. Pull out something you haven’t played in a while and revel in the nostalgia it brings you.

    But maybe you’d like to celebrate Math 2.0 Day instead. Yeah, I know. Math probably wasn’t your favourite subject in school. But anytime you need to figure out a tip, how long it will take you to get somewhere, how much tax there’s going to be on something, you use it. And you almost certainly use some of the thought processes involved in the course of rational decision making. Don’t be afraid of math. Celebrate it.


    09 July – French Fries Day

    Ah, the lowly potato. A little oil, some properly applied heat, and perhaps some seasoning, and you’re left with some form of fry. Shoe string, crinkle cut, wedge, curly, waffle, or just regular. Add what you want in terms of seasoning and sauce, but don’t be afraid to enjoy some today.


    10 July – Clerihew Day

    A clerihew is a four-line poem making light or fun of a famous person. They’re supposed to be mentioned in the first line, and the poem follows an AABB rhyming scheme with a meter up to the poet. One I wrote in 2007 for our then-Prime Minister:

    My greatest wish for Stephen Harper:

    That he were just a little sharper.

    A few more neurons to realize

    He leads a nation.  It’s not a prize.

    A little more recent:

    President Donald Trump

    I wish, instead of tweeting, you’d use that giant lump

    Of useless clay between your ears

    To allay your self-generated global fears

    Okay, I tend towards biting when I write at all about politics.


    11 July – World Population Day

    Noting the anniversary of Day Five Billion which occurred on 11 July 1987. We hit 7.5 billion in April this year. When I was born (at the end of 1970), there were fewer than 4 billion. If you’re keeping track, that means growth is actually slowing down, maybe even fast enough to help the increasing stress we’re putting on the global ecosphere overall.

    A lot of the population growth comes from developing nations where there’s insufficient access to contraceptives. This is improving all of the time, but then you can look at how certain developed nations <cough>United<cough>States<cough> are trending and you might find some things to be worried about.


    12 July – Simplicity Day

    Simply put, we have too much stuff. Today is a day to look around and see if there are things you can do without, if there are things you can stop doing, or if there are things you can start, all with the objective of simplifying your life.


    13 July – International Rock Day

    Whether you realize it or not, a big part of the world is made up of rock. There are a lot of different kinds of rocks, broadly fitting into three categories (Igneous, Sedimentary, Metamorphic), and those rocks come in a variety of sizes. Look at a rock, of any size, you haven’t noticed before. Find something to appreciate about it. Think about all of the things rocks have given you. There are far more than you realize.


    14 July – Shark Awareness Day

    Cue Jaws theme song.

    Not really. Sharks may be super predators in their element, but they aren’t really any threat to people. The chance of getting killed by a shark is roughly one in 3.8 million. Only 5-15 people die per year from shark attacks. Know how many sharks die from people attacks? Estimates usually ballpark around 100 million. I’d love to put a set of odds on that, but there are no reliable estimates on how many sharks might remain in the world, and isn’t it enough of a horror that we kill ten million of them for every one of us they accidentally try to eat?

    Sharks are actually pretty cool creatures, and come in a surprising variety (something to the effect of 450 known species). Find something to like about one.


    15 July – Be A Dork Day

    I’m not going to define dork for you, but we all have dorky things we like or enjoy. Today, do something dorky and fun without being ashamed that you find it fun.


    16 July – World Snake Day

    Snakes are pretty neat creatures and they can be really interesting to watch. We have one as part of our household menageries, a cute little corn snake who goes by the name of Sonic. Affectionate, as far as reptiles go, and interactive in his way, too.

    Oddly, it’s also Guinea Pig Appreciation Day. We used to keep a few of those loveable little fur balls as pets, too. Closest thing you can get to a tribble in the real world, right down to the purring.


    17 July – Hug Your Kid Day

    Never miss an opportunity to hug one of your children, the ones that will let you, at least. There may come a time where they merely tolerate it, and don’t want to be touched. When that happens, remember when you could and take your warmth from the memory.


    18 July – Nelson Mandela International Day

    It is easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build. – Nelson Mandela

    Do something today to make a difference, no matter how small, in your community. Mr. Mandela devoted his life to human rights and spent a significant time in jail as a result of this pursuit. That didn’t stop him. What’s stopping you? What’s stopping me.


    19 July – Take Your Poet to Work Day

    I’m taking Piet Hein.

    The road to wisdom? Well, it’s plain

    And simple to express:


    and err

    and err again,

    but less

    and less

    and less.


    20 July – Our Family Day

    Assign the days from January 1st to December 31st values from 1 to 365 in order. Add the numbers for our anniversary and the birthdays of all five of us, then take the average. You get 201, which is July 20th.

    And today also happens to be Space Exploration Day, the anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. I wonder what we can do to get back.


    21 July – No Pet Store Puppies Day

    Adopt a rescue. You’re changing a life.


    22 July – Pi Approximation Day

    For a couple of thousand years, an approximation of Pi was used (accurate to 2 decimal places) of 22/7. So, the 22nd of July. Geek alert.


    23 July – Hot Enough For Ya Day

    It’s been hot enough for me for a couple of months by this point, but we’re far enough into summer that it’s time for people to start longing for the cooler days of autumn or even winter, right? I wonder if there’s a “Cold Enough For Ya” day in January or February.


    24 July – Cousins Day

    Some of us had cousins we played with as kids. Or second cousins, or whatever. Maybe we only have sporadic contact with them at major family events as adults. This is the day to reach out to your cousins and remind them you know they’re alive. Probably on social media since it doesn’t involve all that much effort and you can send a quick greeting. Maybe that will even spark some of them to respond and maybe you’ll talk to each other a little more often in the future. You’ll never know until you try.


    25 July – My Wife’s Birthday

    And if that’s not reason for you to celebrate (and why isn’t it?), it’s Hot Fudge Sundae Day. Mmmm… hot fudge.


    26 July – One Voice Day (read the Universal Peace Covenant)

    One Voice Day is a global movement to unite the world in reading the Universal Peace Covenant, a pledge aiming to bring people, nations, and the world together in peaceful co-existence. Not the easiest thing to contemplate given the general state of international interactions most days. To bring the “unite” into things a little more closely, the idea is for everyone to read it at the same time, 6 pm Universal. That’s 2 pm Eastern Daylight for me. I may record. Here’s a link to the text. Don’t get too hung up on the punctuation.


    27 July – Walk On Stilts Day

    Once upon a time, I could make a set of stilts work. If I had a set of stilts, his would be the day I’d try again. But, and let’s be completely honest, it’s been decades, so there’s some chance of hilarity for the people nearby if I find a set.


    28 July – Milk Chocolate Day

    I like chocolate. Dark chocolate, light chocolate, and just about everything in between. My basic school of thought: dip it in chocolate, it’ll be fine. Unless there’s mint involved. Mint is for toothpaste, mouthwash, and gum and doesn’t belong anywhere near chocolate


    29 July – International Tiger Day

    There are more tigers in captivity than there are in the wild. Some estimates say twice as many. Beautiful giant cats, but the kind you want to admire from a distance. I’d like to keep admiring them, so it would be really nice if conservation efforts were successful in bringing them back from the edge.

    Not entirely unrelated, today is Don’t Be A Dick Day, a celebration of Wheaton’s Law, namely, “Don’t be a dick.” Seems like it should be easy, but I see people screw it up all the time. We should all try just a little harder today.


    30 July – Paperback Book Day

    Sometime today, curl up with a paperback. Not an e-reader. I love me an electronic book, but not today. Engage a few more senses and celebrate how many more people got to read and own books because someone figured out how to make them smaller and lighter. Celebrate the explosion of reading and stories throughout the twentieth century because of them.


    31 July – Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day

    How many instruments can you name? There’s a lot more out there than what you see in the typical pop band or high school concert band. Watch a video of someone playing a theremin or a glockenspiel or a glass armonica. Or pick one of your own. Maybe learn to play a few notes?

    So there’s the celebrations I’m picking for July. Feel free to find your own.

    Be well, everyone. And celebrate.

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  • Writing

    Writing Report, July 2016

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherphoto_2164_20070217It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these (or a blog post at all, actually – I should fix that), but now that I’ve moved back into a writing groove, I remember these were a good way to keep me updated and honest. If no one else reads these posts, it doesn’t change anything, and it really doesn’t matter.

    My efforts are still a bit scattered, though I have definite targets, just a lot of them. The idea right now is that I’m mostly picking up stories and threads I’ve already started and finishing or polishing them. There are some new things intruding, especially in the short fiction area, and that’s okay, too.


    Novel-Length Fiction

    Drafting: Heros Life, 16,069 words

    This is a sequel to a story I first drafted way back in late 2008, Heroes Inc.. It’s outlined to the chapter level and I started working on it longhand even before I finished the outline. Picking up the narrative a year after the first one ends, and the hero in question is way too secure in his abilities.

    Revision Notes: Arena

    This was my NaNoWriMo project in 2010, and when I opened it up this month to have a look it, the prose didn’t read nearly as badly as it should have, and the story isn’t nearly as broken as I remember. It’s also not nearly as exciting. Fixing the broken is second draft, though. Exciting and pretty is for third. I finished the revision notes for this on the last day of the month, and I’ve decided I’m going to try making it work.

    Second Draft: Universal Destiny

    A novel length story I drafted in 2013 and promptly set aside as too horrible for human eyes. The story itself, while having some internal consistency and timing issues, actually seems to work okay. Lots of revision notes, but most of them easy fixes. I started the second draft a few days before the end of June and hope to finish it by the middle of August. The second draft has added 6,000 words so far, most of them in July.


    Short Fiction

    I wrote six stories from scratch this month, all for the Undead Project, and using five different species of corporeal undead. They range in length from an 855-word flash piece to a 2644-word short. Simple ideas, mostly. Slightly (or very) different treatments of traditional undead.

    Also one story picking up a previous idea. Two-thirds finished when I picked it up, with just the in between scenes to write (which makes more sense if you read the story), the first draft of “Life’s Advocate” finished at 3820 words.

    No submissions this month, but they’re on the list.


    Year of Trek Fiction

    Yes, I’m trying to revive this, though in slightly altered form. Picked up my outline for the novelette featuring Scotty, and while I still like the concept, there’s not enough there to break 7,500 words, so I’m trimming it back a bit. Edited, it’s probably going to break 4k, but not get too much over than that.


    Other Writing

    A handful of reviews and a little bit of poetry transcription makes for another 6,031 words. And I’m behind on both.


    Total for the Month

    Counting word count changes due to editing, the total for the month comes to 43,561 words for July, not at all bad for my first full month back in the saddle. Are the all good words? By no means, but I think I’ve mostly put them in at least a half-decent order. And I think the order will improve over time in most cases.

    Goals for August:

    1. Heros Life: looking for about 30,000 words here, which will probably put me somewhere past the ¾ mark of the story overall.
    2. Universal Destiny: second draft complete, at which point I’ll put it away for a couple of weeks before starting on the Make it Pretty draft.
    3. Arena: if time allows, I intend to start the second draft here, though I doubt I’ll get even a quarter of the way through the story.
    4. Shrine: this is the sequel to Arena, and the second in what I envision as a quartet of stories. I have the basic plot concept, but it needs a lot of fleshing out before I can write it. August will, hopefully, see some of that fleshing out. It won’t surprise me if I start the first chapter or two long hand before I finish the actual plotting. That’s what I did with Heros Life in June.
    5. 15,000 words or so of short fiction, mostly on the Undead, but there are a few other incomplete stories I’d like to turn into complete ones, and perhaps a little Star Trek fanfic in here, too.

    Sounds like a lot, but I want to push my writing into a career, and I’m not getting younger.

    For the rest of the year, the plan is intense. Working through completion levels from Final Read Through down to basic outline:

    Read through complete for Heroes Inc, Skip to My Luu, and Graceland.

    Final Draft: none expected.

    Third drafts complete for: Arena, and Universal Destiny.

    Second draft complete for: Scattered on the Wind. This was my NaNoWriMo project in 2014, and I think it’s got a lot of potential, if I can fix all of the broken things in it.

    Revision notes complete for Heros Life and Draugr Rising.

    First draft complete for Shrine and all stories for The Undead.

    Plotting: Fallen Heroes. This is the third book in the Hero Trilogy. I already have the ending in mind.

    Basic Outline: story ideas for Speculative Emotion.

    Yes, I’m crazy. But it’s a combination of finishing old work and starting new, and the plan is what I need. How much I actually accomplish will depend on a lot of things, but it will be more in any case than if I had no plan.

    Be well, everyone.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

  • Fiction,  Writing

    Writing Report, July 2014

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherJuly has been a month with very little free time outside of the car. A weirder day job schedule than I’ve been used to lately, lots of family stuff going on, a birthday or two, a couple of day (or night) trips, and plenty of stuff to do around the house. That said, my 90 minutes of commuting time has made it a very productive month.

    The quick summary for July, 2014:


    Novel WIP

    The Godhead

    Book 2 progress: a little bit stalled, but I have put in 12,500 words this month. Rethinking a couple of characters and a major plot point coming up in the middle of the book and I’m letting it rest a little.


    So to ease my itchy brain, I’ve drifted back to one of the Warforge short novels to fill the gaps in Captain Pedersen’s story. I did make a brief stop in another universe first, but Warforge received 16,920words of attention in July.


    Short Fiction

    Two pieces of flash fiction, one for The Undead and one not, but short fiction wordage has been taken up under a different category this month. While it only hits 2,668 word here, see the Year of Trek fiction section next.


    Year of Trek Fiction

    A teensy bit of work on the novel for the Year of Trek, Fractured Unity. Most of this was the initial conversion of the audio drama scripts into standard dialogue and rearranging a couple of key bits of story, but there are 2,190 new words here as well.

    Real progress here has been on two of the shorter pieces, a novelette focused on Chekov that started the month at 3,176 words and finished it at 16,250 words. The untitled Chekov story is probably within two thousand words of being done. That’s discovery writing for you. I’ve also started a story with with Uhura as the primary POV that’s gone from zero to 7,302 so far and is probably 67% complete. Further stories starring Sulu, Scotty, Chapel, Leslie, and Kyle are all planned, though not even remotely plotted.

    Keeping track, that’s 22,603 words of fiction in the Star Trek TOS universe.


    Other Writing

    Includes some non-fiction projects that aren’t for public consumption and are never intended to be, as well as some other things like blog posts, scripts, poetry transcriptions, and show notes for Days of Geek. It’s a catch all bucket that accounts for 24,585 words this month.


    Total for the Month

    If I add everything up for July, I come up with 86,755 words.

    Holy. Crap.

    I’m stunned by my output this month. Granted that this is almost exclusively of the first draft variety, and therefore mostly sucks, it’s still a disgusting number. I have to say that the ongoing experiment in electronic dictation/transcription is an unqualified success.

    Looking ahead, the goals for August:

    1. Warforge: I have about one and a half scenes to write to round out Pedersen’s story in the Caledonia Sector, probably about 3,000 words worth, and then I’ll switch back to:
    2. The Godhead. The current plan is to finish off book 2, which needs another 60,000 words or so that I’m intending to spread out until the end of October so I can spend time on some other things as well.
    3. For short fiction, I’d like to finish off the Chekov and Uhura stories and start on the planned Sulu novelette as well as getting back to The Undead in a bigger way.
    4. Also on the Year of Trek, there are other projects involved so that there’s some significant variety on the content when it comes time to start posting. There’s still a lot still to do, but I’m currently ahead of schedule on most of the projects, if only a little. Lots of time yet until 01 January 2016, but it will come faster than anyone thinks.
    5. Again, 12 short story submissions. Due to time shortages, I managed exactly none for July. That puts me well off my target submission pace, but I’m hoping to do better in August with two weeks of vacation coming.
    6. Another shot at 10 blog posts for the month. I put up 12 in July, but also had a lot of them drafted in advance. Not the case this month (only two drafted so far, including this one), so we’ll see what happens.

    I’m not expecting the same level of wordage in August. I’m on vacation for two weeks and while that could mean I’ll get a lot written, it probable means that I’ll get a lot done around the house, hang out with the kids a lot, and scribble a few words here and there. But we’ll see.

    Be well, everyone.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather