• Writing

    Changing Up the Blogging Plan

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    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.

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  • Writing

    August Writing Accomplishments

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    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.

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  • Writing

    Writing in Multiple Directions

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    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.

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  • 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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  • Writing

    July Writing Trends

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    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.

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  • Reading,  Writing

    Genre Preferences

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    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.

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  • Writing

    The 3rd Draft of the 2nd book in the Caledonia Triad Is Finished!

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    How’s that for a longwinded post title?

    It is a bit of a milestone, though, and means that I have one more 3rd draft to do in the set before moving to final. (I am planning to do the final draft of Big Hair Day first, though.)

    Captain Pedersen’s story (this part of it, at least) now stands at 48,263 words. And while only 2/3 of the complete group is at a third draft status, I’m projecting the overall project to run up close to 150k words by the time it’s through the final draft.

    As important to note, this whole set languished for a few years while I drafted other things and never had time to do any significant editing, like with so many other projects. Years as in the original first drafts of these stories were complete just before the end of 2012. I made some revision notes in 2013 and then a much bigger set of them in 2018, but I didn’t get around to the actual second draft until just after my place of work got shut down in late March. I’m very pleased with progress since then, and not just on this set of stories.

    Whatever the other results and changes from the pandemic, I need to stay on the editing track to catch up. If I can find the time, I think I can do that. An hour a day would be a huge impact, but will still probably be most or all of my writing year after I’m finally back at work.

    And that will mean that post-COVID will need to look a lot different for me than pre-COVID when it comes to creative pursuits.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Writing

    My New Writing Idol

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    It’s possible that Dean Wesley Smith might be my new writing idol.

    I’ve mentioned him before talking about the concept of Pulp Speed, but he doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk.

    • He’s published, traditionally, more than 100 novels, and hundreds of short stories, in multiple genres.
    • He’s published more than that going the indie route, in multiple genres.
    • For 4 years, he produced Smith’s Monthly, each month containing 50-55k of new fiction, usually either a novel and a couple of short stories or a bunch of short stories and a serialized novel. And he’s getting back to that with a few issues on the go at once so he can start producing regularly again.
    • He’s blogged every day since 01 August 2012. Closing in on 8 years.
    • Not to mention the various writing seminars, courses, and workshops he teaches.

    The consummate writer. One of the most prolific writers in modern publishing. A writer’s writer.

    And he enjoys it, seeming like he’s having a good time telling stories and talking to people about telling stories and telling more stories. In multiple genres (I know, I keep saying that. Maybe I’m jealous or envious, or maybe I should think about expanding my own writing horizons.) plus some non-fiction.

    And he keeps at it.

    Goals, he still has them.

    Goals, I’m still setting them, still working towards the most basic ones. And it’s cool to have someone to watch who’s making it work and liking it.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Publishing,  Writing

    What if I Change My Mind?

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    I’m not sure when it became a bad thing for people to change their minds in the light of new information or an evolving situation. If you look back at things, are you likely to hold the same views on everything at forty as you did at twenty? Seems unlikely. The world is different, the things that surround you are different, and you’ve had twice as much life experience so you’re different.

    So what have I changed my mind on today?

    Pursuing traditional publishing at novel-length as a productive use of my time.

    I had been working on the route where I’m pursuing both routes, independent and traditional, but the work/reward ratio doesn’t look like it’s worthwhile anymore on the traditional side.

    Yes, it can still be done, and I think that I can probably do it, given time, energy, and persistence, but I’ve slowly come to the realization, watching as successful traditional authors slowly (or quickly) divorce themselves from traditional publishing, and as some authors never take that route in the first place, that I don’t think it’s worth the time commitment for me.

    There are a lot of arguments, a lot of things you can look at that have brought me to this decision. The way advances are done. The rewrite process at major publishers (yes, I’m going with anecdotal horror stories here, but they’re fairly widespread). The contraction of the publishing industry and slow gathering of power into a small handful of big companies who are all struggling with severely outdated business models. The way authors’ contracts are frequently written. That it’s somehow more cost effective for big publishers to sign someone to a 1-3 book contract and then replace them with someone else signed to a 1-3 book contract if they aren’t instantly as popular as Stephen King. The length of time, and number of editing passes, between your final draft and actual publication. That you can only write what they want for what they think the market (that they force the shape of) wants right now.

    It all comes down to one thing, though: the traditional publishing industry is about publishers, not authors.

    Seems kind of obvious when it’s put that bluntly.

    So the question becomes, why should I expend the effort to break into an industry that isn’t going to work for me no matter how hard I work for it?

    It’s not all that way, of course. I’m talking about Big Publishing. But there aren’t that many publishers at that second tier, that middle level anymore and it’s a hard market for them. They’re also getting the same level of submissions as big publishing houses and so get to publish only the best of what they like, which is good, but the level of competition means there are a lot of great stories that should get published and don’t.

    The short-fiction side of the industry is bubbling and thriving and expanding. Sure, there are a lot of short-lived publications, but there’s also never a lack of great short fiction available. I’m not abandoning short fiction submissions, but it hasn’t been a focus of mine for several years. I’m turning back towards it in the second half of this year, though, because I’ve never lost my love of short fiction, reading or writing.

    But I’m really talking about novel-length work here, where the indie route means I have complete creative control over the entire process from the initial scribbled idea to the final release of the e-book and even paperback design.

    And sure, that means I’ve had to learn how to design my own covers and do my own layouts and learn new software and build a social media presence and blog effectively. Sure, it means I have to keep learning and relearning all of those things, over and over again so I keep getting better at them. So what? Learning stuff makes me happy, too. I’m investing the time into bettering myself and my skills instead of rewriting the same book over and over again until it bears only a passing resemblance to what I originally committed to the keyboard and is ready for publication by someone’s definition who’s never even met me.

    The ultimate result is probably that I get to write a lot more stories, and that’s kind of an important part of things for me, too. I have a lot of stories I want to tell. For 2020, I’m in catch up mode for revising and editing. Honestly, that will probably stretch into 2021, too, since I have a lot of stuff I’ve drafted in the last few years and not edited, and I have a lot of stuff I have edited that I haven’t done anything with. If everything I currently have at between 1st and final draft that I haven’t published were to release at the rate of 1 book per month (not even looking at short fiction), I can get to Spring 2022 before things that I’m currently drafting get to the front of the line. And then there are all the things I have planned.

    I have a lot of stories to tell, and I’ve figured out that it really isn’t that important to me to get them published traditionally. I don’t think I can live long enough for that to happen, anyway.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Writing

    Writing Day #2

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    I took less time from chores and household projects today, but it was still a productive day for me. Just for fun, a quick update on what today’s writing focus brought me:

    • “Drifting” finished at 4,167 words. And yes, that made me a seven hundred or a thousand words wrong on how long I thought the story would be, but I was enjoying the AI annoying my protagonist.
    • 10 Chapters (out of 45) of third pass editing on Fallen Heroes, taking me to that pass being just over 60% complete.
    • A couple of short reviews.
    • Very basic plotting on a Fantasy (probably) story where I’m totally ripping off a plot from a Shakespearean play. At 1435 words, the ripping off part is done and the twisting of things has begun. Then comes the fleshing out. I have no idea why I started this, but it seemed like a fun idea at the time.
    • And this short blog post.

    So not precisely what I originally planned, but I enjoyed the time spent at the keyboard. Total word accumulation for the day = 4715. Granted, that’s much lower than yesterday’s 8,138, but a day with a lot of drafting will always be a bigger day than a day with a lot of editing.

    It’s also a 2-day total of 12,875.

    And brings June so far to 18,223.

    And the last day I missed doing any writing was the 19th of March, making 77 days in a row and a word total of 99,940 in that time. Which means I should probably find a couple more minutes to write tonight to break 100k for the streak. (The year as a whole is about 114.2k for me so far, which tells you how much I got done in the first couple of months of 2020.)

    Not that I’m counting, or anything. Oh, wait. Actually, I’m always counting. And I’m always counting just about everything.

    Stay safe, and be well, everyone.

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