• Writing

    Screw it. I’m doing NaNo.

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

    The next paragraph is stolen from my October writing report. The rest of the post isn’t.

    November = NaNo = NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month, where, contrary to the national piece, slightly insane writers worldwide decide to attempt to write a complete novel of at least 50,000 words in the month of November. I just missed in 2010, with the original first draft of Arena making 50k by the end of November but still needing another 8k words to finish the story, which I stretched out a bit. And I “won” NaNo in 2014 with the first draft of Scattered on the Wind coming in at a little over 62k on November 26th, but I dictated about half of that novel and it took me a while to clean it up, so the final product first draft I officially count at almost 65k and on December 17th of that year. It’s a temptation every year, but I haven’t given in to that temptation since 2014.

    Screw it. I’m doing NaNo.

    But there’s a catch.

    Any work on the NaNoWriMo project has to come after all other obligations for the day have been met, including planned writing obligations. So if there’s a blog post slotted, and I’m supposed to edit 2 chapters of something, and I haven’t made any progress on one of this month’s short stories yet, those all have to come first. So do family obligations and appointments, necessary academics, paid work (if any), required housework and maintenance. Just because I don’t have a formal job at the moment doesn’t mean I get to chuck everything to put a couple of thousand extra words in.

    Oh, and the story I’ve decided on has a bare bones outline that I think is probably going to translated to a first draft that’s closer to 60,000 words than 50,000.

    Not exactly setting myself up for success, am I?

    But life, uh, finds a way. Even if I don’t finish the story during November, I’ll have made a great start on it and the words will still count.

    Right now, I’m 6,281 words in. And I haven’t touched it yet today. So, three days in and the track is good so far. No idea if I’ll be able to maintain it or not.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
  • Writing

    October Writing Accomplishments

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

    As I kick the student thing into high gear, both in terms of the course content for TESOL and in prepping for becoming a full time student in May (not January 2021 as I’d expected until recently – acceptance is in hand although not completely registered yet), the writing is naturally a little more limited. Overall, October just barely crossed the 20k barrier.

    Still, it’s less about the numbers and more about what I managed to accomplish which, while less than I originally wanted, was still enough to justify the time I put into things this month.

    1. Warforge editing: while the original target was to get through the final draft all three of the books in the Caledonia triad, I finished that final draft on the first book and the second is about a quarter complete.
    2. Short stories: five of them this month, ranging from a 100-word Drabble up to 2400 words, so none of them fantastically long, but putting me back in the short fiction from of mind.
    3. The longhand story: the longest of those was the one I wrote a hundred or two hundred words at a time in a notebook. I’m about 1100 words into another one right now and pantsing it so I have no idea how long it’s going to be. That’s part of the fun.
    4. A total of 10 blog posts published, giving me a weekly average of 2.3 for the month. Lighter than I originally wanted, but life gets in the way sometimes.
    5. 1 journal entry. It could have been more. There’s probably still some to come out of the event that spawned that one.

    Due to other issues and family commitments, I didn’t publish much in October. Actually, I didn’t publish anything in October. That can’t, and hopefully won’t, continue. There’s so much I want to do.

    I’m hoping to accomplish a little more in November, and there are a couple of things I really want to get out before Christmas. One of those things might even be Christmas-related.

    I still haven’t missed a writing day since March 19th. Counting today, that’s 227 in a row, and I’m happy with that. Very happy.

    Targets for November:

    1. Warforge: Caledonia books. Let’s finish the final drafts on these.
    2. Finish the basic outline for the Draugr Rising sequel, Kami Falling. I’m down to the detail and scene level plotting at this point. Yeah, this was on the list for October. It’s possible it might spill over into December, too. We’ll see how it goes.
    3. Short Stories. I’d like to get the first drafts of three in, maybe including the handwritten one being completed.
    4. 3 blog posts per week. October was a miss here, but I have solid hopes for November. And a lot of topics.
    5. Publish 1-3 books or shorter works.

    As always, there is a grand plan, and I’ve started building the 2021 detail level plan. I always get a lot of joy out of planning things. Once the 2021 detail is more or less set, I’ll move on to the semi-detail level of the three-year plan, revise the rough five-year plan, and expand the high-level ten-year plan out to ten years again. Much fun will be had.

    And, of course, today is November first, so there’s always the temptation to say, screw it. I’m doing NaNo.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

    (Note: November = NaNo = NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month, where, contrary to the national piece, slightly insane writers worldwide decide to attempt to write a complete novel of at least 50,000 words in the month of November. I just missed in 2010, with the original first draft of Arena making 50k by the end of November but still needing another 8k words to finish the story, which I stretched out a bit. And I “won” NaNo in 2014 with the first draft of Scattered on the Wind coming in at a little over 62k on November 26th, but I dictated about half of that novel and it took me a while to clean it up, so the final product first draft I officially count at almost 65k and on December 17th of that year. It’s a temptation every year, but I haven’t given in to that temptation since 2014.)

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
  • Writing

    200 Days in a Row

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

    Today, as I type this blog post, I’m marking 200 days in a row with time spent on a writing activity – drafting, editing, plotting, or some combination of those – every single day.

    In that time, counting this post, I’ve had a net gain of 256,993 words. That number will go up a little since I still have a little time booked for drafting today, though not much, but it’s a pretty good number any way I happen to slice it.

    While 200 days in a row of just about anything is impressive, I wasn’t really paying attention so didn’t mark 100, and I won’t likely notice 300 as it goes by, but if I continue on this streak, I probably will note when I hit a year, since that will be a really big deal at least in my head. Depending on how you want to count things, that’s either March 19th (365 days in a row) or March 20th (the anniversary of the beginning of the streak). Either way, I’ll try to remember to mark the occasion as long as nothing happens to break the streak in the meantime.

    For now, I’ve got a little more typing to do today.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
  • Writing

    A Writing Experiment

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

    I haven’t been writing about writing much lately, have I?

    Maybe we’ll fix that today since I want to share an experiment I’ve been trying.

    I haven’t been getting a lot of writing in during the past couple of weeks as I try to line up the ducks for the next phase of my life. While the first row was lined up about a week ago, I’ve got the second row lined up now and I’m jumping into things starting tomorrow. (For reference, I’m now registered in that TEFL course I mentioned, having picked the one I want and built a schedule to get it done in the time frame I want. Everything is cleared and the course is live. If it weren’t for vet appointments, it would be the rest of my week.)

    But the writing I have gotten in has been a sort of experiment on the fiction side. Every night, I’m trying to add 250 words to a story longhand. The next day, I’m transferring those words to a Word document and adding to them or modifying them as I see fit. In some cases, those modifications are fairly extensive, and once or twice there’s been a side trip to expand a very short scene. Today, I decided to get the long hand work in early. With a gap of a couple of hours, I did the typing as well, so I sort of finished the first and second draft of a story on the same day.

    Going strictly by the long hand version, the story is 6010 words long, but the word document says 8158 words. That’s a bigger difference than I normally get between first and second draft. Between first and final, really, but I think it’s gotten a lot of the editing that would have happened both making changes and tidying things up. I’ll be interested to see how much of a difference in word count there is between this and the third draft. I’m not expecting much.

    It’s a fanfiction story, by the way, the first of the TOS Batch 3 stories, starring a freshly-promoted Vincent DeSalle suddenly in command of a destroyer that should have been scrapped but was fixed up instead and is now off to patrol the Romulan border. Not a lot of action, but a good bit of character exploration, and I think I’m going to come back to this ship in the future. I already like most of the crew members I’ve introduced.

    More immediately, I’m going to try this experiment again but working in a universe of my own this time to see how it works out, and I’ve already got the opening scene in my head. Well, the opening of the opening scene, anyway.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
  • Writing

    Changing Up the Blogging Plan

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

    So while I’m still not ready to announce the big change in life direction that I’m working towards, there are a couple of little things that are going to have visible adjustments. One of those is the basic blogging strategy I’ve been pursuing.

    Up to now, this year I’ve been trying to slowly ramp up with the long-term goal being to be adding something to the blog every day. I’m not sure that’s practical with the changes coming, and I was thinking that before those changes were even possible, before the company I worked for made the decision that my job wouldn’t be necessary going forward.

    I’ve been thinking about adjusting certain things about my writing goals for a while now. I’ve talked before about how there’s an overall plan broken down into a variety of phases, I’ve been looking at adjusting some of those. Blogging keeps coming to the top of that list with the primary question being, is it taking time away from other things I could be accomplishing?

    A blog post takes a little time, and while it doesn’t go through the same four drafts that my fiction does, it does have two: drafting and editing/tweaking. A little bit of time to pick categories and tags, a little more to find an image to go with it if it needs one, the actual posting and posting to Facebook, and oh, does it need to be tweeted? It does add up, probably coming in at a half hour for every 500 words worth of post, which is about my average post in the last couple of months (of course I keep track). Then there are the various static page updates that need to be done on a regular basis.

    The question then becomes, am I spending too much time on blog-related activities? The answer I’ve come up with is a qualified yes. I like being open about some of what I’m up to, and it’s a nice outlet, but is the blog really the right expenditure of energy to further my writing? If so, is it at the level I’ve been working towards? I think here needs to be a different balance.

    I’m also going to try not stressing too hard about how many posts I’m getting up each week, although I’ve got a basic plan. Having a plan means I also need to learn to not worry if I happen to miss a day, but the basic idea is regular posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I’ve still got a few Star Trek Sundays planned, so they’ll go ahead, and there will certainly be other special events here and there, but I’m hoping a regular schedule will likely help keep me focused more and may also make sure that there aren’t any large gaps here and there, which have sometimes still happened since COVID.

    This is Monday’s post for this week. I’ll have something fun for Wednesday, and there may be a little something for the official Star Trek Day tomorrow, too.

    In the meantime, stay safe and be well, everyone.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
  • Writing

    August Writing Accomplishments

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

    This one is going to be much shorter. I suddenly have a lot of things I’m trying to work out, which is probably obvious from posts over the past two weeks. This won’t be much more than a bare-bones list of things I actually finished in August, and I’ll note that I made a little progress on the first drafts of a couple of things and have started on a conversion of Draugr Rising into a screen play for an experiment I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to manage. Otherwise, the focus has mostly been on editing, but there’s been a lot of blogging, especially in the latter half of the month.

    Writing completions:

    1. Shrine, Forest, Palace, Battlefield 2nd Draft completed. Yup, all four. After changing gears for a while, the next big thing is to get them all through 3rd draft so that all of the Troll World books are in the same place.
    2. Pride of Andor Second Draft. A short novel taking place in the Star Trek prime universe, TOS era but still during the five-year mission.
    3. A total of 17 blog posts published, with 3 more written for another project, giving me a weekly average of 4.5 for August.
    4. Some journaling for the first time in a while, with 4 of those this month.

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

    1. Ancient Runes – technically a couple of thousand years in the future, but half of that time was spent getting humans to the planet the story takes place on. Science Fiction borrowing some inspiration from Norse mythology. Set to drop in early September, but I’m still not happy with the cover so it may migrate to later in the month.
    2. Star Trek Solo Missions – the collection of what I’m considering the first batch of TOS fanfic stories. Second batch is written but I’ve only just started editing.
    3. “Searching for the Sea Monster” – a story that appeared in Dead Bait waaaay back in late 2009. I’ve had the rights back for ten years but haven’t even tried to place it somewhere else. So, an ebook seems reasonable.
    4. A Matter of Honour – Star Trek TOS fanfic scheduled to drop on September 6th, it’s done and ready to go.

    Publishing schedule for September currently includes two novelettes as well, but I may accelerate the next novel if I wind up having time. That’s in some doubt. Things are happening in a different part of my life and there may be a lot less time than I originally planned for September.

    Overall, a good month. Total word count of 40.6k, making it the third best month out of eight so far this year. September will either be comparable or less than half of that, depending on how something works out. It may sound strange, but I’m actually very much hoping for the less than half version because that means something really, really important to me and the rest of my life has become possible to launch right now.

    As of right now, in September I hope to:

    1. Complete the final drafts for the first Warforge triad.
    2. Finish the Draugr Rising script conversion.
    3. Do the basic outline for its sequel, Kami falling.
    4. Complete the making notes phase for the second batch of TOS short fiction.
    5. Write 21 Blog posts.

    As always, I have plans beyond September, but I’ll reforecast every month based on reality at the time, and may even have adjusted September by the time this drops.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
  • Writing

    Writing in Multiple Directions

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

    While I’m getting ducks in a row, I’m still trying to get lots of creative work done, too. There are plenty of goals to be attained, but I’m putting in work on a couple of things that aren’t part of the normal daily goals at the moment.

    First, I’ve been thinking about the idea that it’s possible for a very small number of people to produce an animated movie with current technology. Realistically, you need a script writer, an animator, a sound effects person, and voice talent adequate and numerous enough for the task. Draugr Rising is a novel with, if I’ve counted correctly, nine characters. It’s an adventure fantasy story borrowing a bit from Norse mythology, and taking place in present-day Toronto. I’m not saying it’s going to become an animated movie, but it seems like an easy choice for an experiment if I wanted to go with a story I already have the novel of. First step is conversion to a screenplay format and then editing that into what would be a reasonably paced movie. Then, maybe, I can think about what it would take to get there.

    Second, I’ve looped back around to the Star Trek fan fiction and started the revision notes phase of the second batch of shorter stories. Shorter than novel-length, anyway. Two of them are deep into novella territory, more often called a short novel these days, though I still often think of a short novel as under 60k when the SFWA definition that most genre folks refer back to says a novel starts at 40k. It wasn’t always that way and as we push forward into the new golden age of virtual pulp and short fiction, it probably won’t stay that way. Changes are already in the wind.

    At any rate, I’ve dived back into Pride of Andor, the tentative title for a story that will wind up being in the 26-29k range once it’s fully polished. The primary protagonist is a character of my own who used to serve on the titular ship but I’ve been using as Security Chief on the Enterprise for a while.

    And, of course, I’m still pushing forward hard on the regular editing. I just finished the last second draft in the Troll World Series and I’ll let those rest for a couple of weeks while I do the finals for the Warforge: Caledonia triad.

    And I’m planning a significant non-fiction project, too, but the shape of that depends a lot on the new life path I keep not talking about. Soon.

    In the meantime, stay safe and be well, everyone.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
  • Writing

    July Writing Accomplishments

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

    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.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
  • Writing

    July Writing Trends

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

    While I’m not quite ready to call totals on July word counts yet, they’re going to be substantively lower than June and even May, probably closer to April levels. There are a variety of reasons for this, including some real-world ones. From a writing perspective, though, it’s more editing, less drafting, and fewer blog posts. The average word count per day for July is running at a little under 850, well off of May’s 1600 and the over 2600 I managed for June, but still a bit above April’s 840.

    And I’m entirely okay with that. June was, by all measures, a spectacular month. In the entire time I’ve been taking my writing seriously, I’ve only had three better, and two of those only just. My average month over the last year and a half is just shy of 41,000 words, though. July isn’t going to make that but, like I said, there’s not a lot of drafting going on. That may change in the last week of the month, but we’ll see.

    I’ve also made some progress on the publishing side of things that makes me happy. That, combined with the raw work I have been getting done means that, overall, I’m having a good creative month. That’s what really counts.

    Looking back at this post, though, it almost seems like it’s a sort of reporting that there’s nothing to report kind of post, which isn’t what I intended when I started typing.

    I suppose the best way to change that is to put something a little more meaningful in. So, here goes:

    1. I’ve finished the first drafts of the second batch of TOS short fanfiction
    2. I’m within spitting distance of finishing the final draft of the third Heroes Inc book.
    3. Two ebooks have published this month and a third is set up to drop on Saturday.

    And thus, I spoil some of what will be in the monthly writing report a week from Saturday. So be it.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
  • Reading,  Writing

    Genre Preferences

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

    I don’t intend to argue (or even give) definitions in this post, but as I look at the world of fiction, there are 11 genres. Yes, if you include sub-genres and genre-mixings you can get that number an awful lot higher, but I’m just looking at the broad buckets here.

    And I’m going to express preferences. Remembering that your preferences are not mine, you should disagree as much as you like. Those preferences and favourites, both for reading and writing, will become apparent in the short comments that follow. I will say in advance that I have a strong preference for speculative genres and frequently only read in most of the others if they’re mixed in.

    I present the 11 genres in alphabetical order.

    1. Adventure (or you could say Thriller if you like).
    2. Crime (includes things like Detective, Police Procedurals, Noir).
    3. Fantasy
    4. Historical
    5. Horror
    6. Literary
    7. Mystery
    8. Romance
    9. Science Fiction.
    10. Suspense
    11. Western.

    For reading preferences, Science Fiction is where I live most of the time. SF offers endless possibilities for exploring ideas, concepts, possibilities, and what it means to be human. In any given year, SF makes up at least 75% of my fiction reading.

    Fantasy is where I spend the second largest amount of time. The SF/F split used to be a lot closer to 50/50 and I know that there’s plenty of awesome and creative stuff being done, but too much of it seems to be just exploring this neat world/magic system/character the author has created. I say ‘just’ like that’s a bad thing, but it isn’t. These can be great stories, they’re just mostly not what I want anymore. I want stuff to make me think, stuff to make me consider big questions. For me, the best Fantasy does that, but most of it doesn’t look in that direction. And that’s entirely fine. It’s just not for me right now.

    Third most popular genre for ready for me would probably be historical. I have general preferences for ancient Greeks and Romans, Medieval, and Napoleonic Wars, though it feels like I haven’t read a lot of any of these for a long time. Long enough that I feel like I should go and have a look for what’s published in the last few years.

    I think I’ve read exactly one Crime novel, two Mysteries, and three Thrillers in my life. Any literary fiction was for an English class. Romance, Suspense, and Westerns don’t hit the reading list on their own. Any and all of these genres are fine as elements in a story in one of my preferred genres, but I’ve never developed a taste for any of them as genres in their own right. I do sometimes wonder if it’s been a mistake not to try. Whole multiverses full of stories that I just never consider. Something to think about.

    You’ll notice the absence of Horror in everything I’ve written so far in this post. I don’t really do Horror. I tend to express that as finding aspects of reality disturbing enough and I’m not really looking for that in my entertainment. I have tried. As part of my ongoing quest to read all of the books, I keep encountering Horror novels in the World Fantasy Award group. Every one of these I’ve tried has been a DNF (Did Not Finish). More have been DNR (Did Not Read). I’ve never really understood the desire to get in touch with the dark side of things, the fear, the things that cost you sleep at night. I understand that some people do like that in their fiction, but I don’t share it.

    Horror aside, other things that I hate in fiction for the same reason:

    • Pointless gore and violence.
    • Killing/torturing/abusing children as a plot device. I abandon TV shows for that, why would I read it? There are authors whose work I’ve never gone back to because of this.
    • Torture/sexual violence. I leave the room when that happens on TV. I’ve shut off movies because of it. Not high on the list of things I want to see in fiction.
    • The bad guy winning. Happens too often in the real world, thanks.

    Am I squeamish? Over-sensitive? A wimp? Pick the word you like. I prefer to think of it as knowing myself well and being able to empathize with the character on the receiving end. And really, I get enough of these things while consuming media about reality.

    Writing preferences match up fairly well with my reading preferences at the genre level, which shouldn’t surprise anyone too much. But if I get Excel to do the work for me, I come up with the following basic percentages:

    • Science Fiction       47%
    • Fantasy                 39%
    • Horror                   10%
    • Historical              1%
    • Contemporary        3%

    Most of the Horror is probably more like Dark Fantasy, but most of then were also written with either specific anthology calls in mind or to see if I could write to a specific theme. And not one of them is particularly horrific.

    Most of the ‘Contemporary’ probably should go in the Adventure bucket. The super short stuff that doesn’t, well, I guess I’d have to mark them down as Literary, even though that feels weird.

    If I only look at what I’ve written since the beginning of 2019, the numbers turn out very different, with SF being almost 75% of all the stories in that time, counting only first drafts. One Historical Fiction novel, one short that has to be called Literary, and the rest Fantasy. Comes much closer to the reading mix, doesn’t it?

    So, reading and writing both, I’m a speculative fiction guy. Broadly speaking, just about everything I write is either Science Fiction or Fantasy, but I have some plans to branch out a little more over the next year or so.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather