I got myself busy this weekend. I made a whole bunch of covers for upcoming releases (and a couple for next year). Check them out. Let me know what you think. I’m open to suggestions. Once I have edits applied I will be getting these books out there. My next step is to get a cover for V&A Shipping II. Then I only need a couple more covers and I’ll have everything I need for the rest of this year. I’m having so much fun using my new found photoshop skills :)
First of all, I ‘won’ NaNoWriMo. That was one of my many goals for 2012 was to finally win NaNoWriMo. I’d only done this once in 2007 when I was working on the first V&A Shipping novel. This year I was working on the sequel to V&A Shipping and I had a blast writing it. Writing goals I’ll discuss later this month when I do my 2012 postmortem. There’s a lot to discuss on 2012 and NaNoWriMo is just one small piece.
Coming into NaNoWriMo I was trying to finish up Of Gnomes and Dwarves Book 1. I’d written and re-written and edited this book to death over about a ten year span. One of my goals for 2012 was to use the first book as an outline and write it from scratch and not try and edit the book to be better. I started that effort in mid-September and thought I would be able to finish prior to NaNoWriMo starting.
So as it got closer to November and I needed to get an episode of Golden West written and produced as well as assembling the Action Pack Podcast I had my work cut out for me. I still had a ways to go with Of Gnomes and Dwarves and I also needed to get a plot written up before I began.
I finished Of Gnomes and Dwarves on October 30th by writing 4000 words per day the last few days. It was a blast to write the end of that book and coming off that high I needed to be ready for another marathon of writing all of November. I honestly wasn’t sure I would be able to pull it off. I was spent after the end of re-writing the first book I’d ever written, but I was excited to write V&A II.
October 31st 2012; Halloween. Lots to do as it was a work day, Halloween, and much to do that night. I had a rough plot in my head and I had a vague idea of where the story was going to start and where it was going to end. I knew I was going to be introducing an unexpected romance, a new character from Earth, and a Dyson Sphere in trouble. I even had the first line in my head.
“It’s kind of hard to lose a planet, kid.”
This, of course, would be Vic talking to Joey. What did Joey do wrong? How’d they lose the planet? Where was the planet going? How was B.T. Justice going to be involved? How were they going to get out of this pickle? So many questions.
I wrote 25 sentences to get me just over halfway through the story and a few questions that I knew needed answering in the long run. Some answered in Book 2, some will carry over in the series. I didn’t have any names for anything. That was a major frustration, but I’m good like that and I’ve gotten better in not letting something like that slow me down.
So the day before NaNoWriMo I wrote around 400 words of plot. That was it. I felt weak in the knees. I felt like I rushed Of Gnomes and Dwarves. I didn’t think I could pull off 50,000 words in November with Thanksgiving, volleyball games, practices and everything else going on. It’s a short month and so much going on.
Here’s a screenshot of my excel spreadsheet to show the NaNoWriMo word goal. You can see I had a great first day, then nada the second day. Yeah. I was worried, but I knew I could pick up the slack. I did great for most of the month. You can then see things fell apart toward the end of the month and a couple days where it was touchy and others where it was plain nose to the grindstone and go for it writing. This is just how I work even though I try to write daily.
It wasn’t an easy month. A lot happened. I lot went on in my head thinking about things I needed to take care of. Plans beyond December into 2013 and so many things I need to take care of. But this was one goal I promised myself. I was going to knock NaNoWriMo out of the park. I didn’t knock it out of the park, but I had a solid showing and I’m proud of that. A hit is still a hit even if it wasn’t a home run.
One of the biggest things I learned in NaNoWriMo that I’ve tried to stick with throughout the year is to keep on writing. Don’t worry about what’s broke, just keep going until you hit then end and THEN worry about what’s broke. I can always re-write scenes, chapters, sections, and in the case of Of Gnomes and Dwarves, entire books. Everything is fixable. Pushing ahead in spite of your internal editor and your own self doubts is what matters.
I’ll admit one thing. Before NaNoWriMo I deleted all the games off my tablet and phone. Angry Birds, Temple Run, couple tower defense games, everything. Gone. Zap. Done! It wasn’t easy, but I did it. This was the best thing I could have done for my productivity during November. No longer did I have the excuse of “Oh, I’ll just get three stars on this one level and then I’ll get to writing. Okay, one more level.” That kind of mentality ate away many hours prior to NaNoWriMo and I wasn’t about to let it eat away my time during November.
I also got back in the habit of “I’m not feeling it” and forcing myself to get up and come back in five or ten minutes and start over. Basically doing a reset in my brain so I would not focus on a blank page, but start typing. I even started with my Daily Updates again which are a great primer to get all the funk out of my head. It helps me work through what I’m doing, keeps my goal in front of me, and forces me to address the day at hand.
If I looked at 50,000 words, that was overwhelming. I won’t lie. It’s daunting. But when I look at 1667 that’s not a daunting number. I can type that many words in one sitting no problem. I’ve done 2500 words an hour before if I’m excited enough or motivated enough. I just need to focus on the task at hand and go for it.
Looking at something so big in smaller chunks helps even when looking at my annual goal, but we’ll cover that when I do my 2012 breakdown.
All in all I wrote 67,830 words during the month of November. 50105 of those words were new fiction. I’m excited about that number. I’m looking at November and I know I won’t write 50,000 words for a couple of reasons, but we’ll get to that in another post.
I took the entire weekend off from writing. I read a lot of short stories. I read a good chunk of a new book (How I slept Myself to the Middle by Kevin Pollak) and I relaxed as much as possible. The new few weekends will be PACKED and even though I have the last two weeks of the year off, I will not be getting as much writing done as I’d like.
That being said, it’s time to do the day job.
I haven’t written in a couple of days. That’s frustrating. It’s not from a lack of desire. It’s from a lack of time. I know this will occur, but hey, I can still feel frustrated, right?
I know that I shouldn’t. I’m still thinking of what I want to/need to write so that means my writing sessions will be more productive.
There’s also the upside as to why I haven’t written. 1) Getting a lot of work on the day job done (even at night) and 2) My favorite daughter’s volleyball team is kicking ass!
My favorite daughter loves volleyball. I love that she loves volleyball. I love to sit on the side next to the wife and other parents and cheer them on. I feel great (for them) when they win. I suffer when they lose. Monday’s game was against a team they’d beaten earlier in the season. In two games (best two out of three). Monday they lost the first game 20-25. They won the second 25-23. The third game was a stressful back and forth and back and forth that finally ended in a win of 18-16 (a game to 15 points that must be won by 2 points). The girls all fought and even if they’d lost, they had nothing to be disappointed about.
Then I watched the Chargers choke on Monday night football and decided to just go to bed knowing that my favorite daughter is on an awesome team.
Last night I had to go to the store a couple of times and do some late night work to get a bit ahead on the project I’m working on. I’m ahead now and I feel good about that. The past two nights have left me spent. So rather than try and write, I watched a couple speed painting videos (I’m learning Photoshop and Illustrator). These helped relax my brain and I’m trying to do something every day with regards to learning how to draw.
I’m learning that drawing is much like writing. It’s all about layers, one on top of the other. It’s a recursive process that you need to go over, and over, and over to get it right. You can just BANG done. I think that’s always been my problem with drawing in the first place.
So I haven’t progressed as much as I would have liked in the past couple of days. That needs to change as I want to have the first draft of Of Gnomes and Dwarves completed before NaNoWriMo starts. Why? During November I want to Start on V&A Shipping II. Yes, after all these years I’m going to write a sequel to V&A Shipping. I’ve got the story in my head, I’ve got a plot in my head, I just need to get some words down, a chapter by chapter blow, then prepare for November where I’ll be writing at least 50,000 words which will be a great start on V&A II.
Before I can do that, I need to get through the work day. I’d better go do that.
Had another great writing day yesterday. I’m hopeful for another repeat performance again today, but I’m not sure if it’ll happen or not. Why?
My favorite daughter had volley ball practice (two 2 hour sessions).
I’ll be doing an interview.
I have a major release for work tonight.
I need to get things ready for camping this weekend.
If I can squeeze in a little writing time, I’ll be happy. Maybe I’ll get lucky. Who knows. I do need to get a new Unorthodox Writing Tips written and up. I had written five weeks worth some time back and those have run out. I need to take a fiction break and write a few more so I don’t have to stress about those. I need to get a couple book reviews out. Speaking of reviews…
Recently I had listened to Rendezvous with Rama. It’s a great concept, but he story is told with large data dumps and paper cut-outs of characters. The only real substance is the actual concept. So I’m onto Rama II. I remember reading this book when I was younger (I think 15 or 16) and I had liked it at the time. I’m listening to it on audio now. I’m a couple hours in an… nothing has happened yet. When I say nothing I mean there was a nearly 45 minute data dump on the Earth’s history to get us to that point in the story. Based on my experience this is most likely what Clarke added to the story. He’s great at data dumps and huge amounts of ‘telling’ a story. So far I don’t like any of the characters. There seems to be a great attempt to make them more than what they are. I’m bored with it. Seriously bored. To the point where I most likely won’t finish the story and I doubt I’ll continue on into books 3 and 4.
If you’ve made it through Rama II and the subsequent books, am I giving up too soon? Should I skip ahead? Will the books get any better? I hate books that dump information and drag the story on. So far 100% of what I’ve gotten through so far has added nothing to the story so I feel I’ve wasted my time. This book is suffering from bloat.
Sorry, just had to rant there for a moment. I think I’ll move on to another book before this one lulls my brain to sleep and starts to affect my writing.
Little tangent there. Sorry about that.
Oh, some curious news. I saw I had gotten a couple of hits when I mentioned Jay Lake in a post. My post about censorship. To his post today over at (http://www.jlake.com/blog/) he mentions a post he might not put up or will be censoring. This after I noticed someone came to my page after searching on Jay Lake. Curiouser and curiouser. Did Mr. Lake find my post? The world may never know.
HEY! Quick maintenance question. I have everything set up so if you are subscribed to the blog via email and reply to the email you get it should be adding a comment to the blog. That doesn’t not seem to be happening. If you’re getting these posts via email and have replied, I’ve never seen it and it didn’t post a comment to the blog. If you know how to fix this, please get a hold of me and let me know. I’ve already looked online and everything suggested to have checked in the options I’ve done. So color me confused.
I’ve got work to do and duck pictures to download.
Yesterday was a good writing day. Almost 2000 words written. I like days like that. I got a tiny tiny start on Of Gnomes and Dwarves, but stopped. As soon as I realized that I didn’t want to main city to be named Wellshire anymore, I got a tiny bit stuck. So I’m going to spend a little time getting the names all in place, but the character descriptions filled out, make sure I have everything in place that might slow me down. I know the plot very well for the story.
Of Gnomes and Dwarves was the first book I had ever written. I started it in 1988 and had many false starts with it until 1997 when I actually got it done. Then I spent a couple years revising that story. It was a painfully long time to write a book, but I didn’t have the level of commitment that I have now. I also didn’t have the writing skill that I have now. I’ve written so many more words and I feel that I can now write the story that I always intended to write.
Maus, Willie, and Slick will finally see life. Reeg, Dorg, Hermin, and the entire cast of characters are just waiting for me to put pen to paper and write once more. When I had written these books (yes books) before I had written them at break-neck speed. I didn’t get them out they way I wanted. The characters took shape, yes. The story took shape, yes. But my voice wasn’t there. My storytelling wasn’t at the level I needed it to be to tell the story in the way that I wanted to tell it.
I feel I’m there now.
It’s not that I’ve run out of ideas. It’s not that I think Of Gnomes and Dwarves will be a multi-billion dollar best seller. It’s that this story is a very personal journey. I know I’ve got a great concept for the story. I’ve got fun characters. The pacing will be appropriate. I’m better at showing vs telling (something I still see in novels that will drive me nuts). I know now how to avoid the data dumps and tell the story that will provide the background of the characters. I’ll be able to get inside their heads as much as they’ve been inside my head over the years.
For 25 years I’ve had them all running around inside my head screaming, yelling, fighting, and waiting for their story to be told. I have a good idea how many books it will span. I have a majority of the storyline already plotted out for the books. I’ve got backgrounds for each character. Each event will build on a past that I’ve already laid out in my notes and build on the future of the characters. It’s all primed and ready for me to go.
So what’s been the hold up?
All these years I’ve listened to the saying “Don’t write about your D&D characters and adventures.” I’m breaking that rule now only in the fact that I’m putting my D&D Characters into a story. Not just a story, but a fantasy novel. The novel could happen with any group of characters. The fact that I already have personalities for my characters will just give the story that little bit of life that it has been lacking. Knowing how to get inside the characters heads and tell third person focused narrative will allow me to let the characters tell the story instead of me telling the story with the characters. I want to become invisible and let the story come through.
To say I’m a little bit excited about this project is an understatement. I’m convinced that I will finally be able to get this story out of my head. After all these years and all this time I’ve spent writing I will be revisiting a world that I left behind and haven’t visited in nearly fifteen years. I wrote four books and trunked them all. They’re now out of the trunk and will serve as notes, a plot outline, a guide. Little else. The writing isn’t terrible, but it’s not the voice I want to use to tell these stories. I can do better. I will be better. And the stories will be better for it.
I’m off to play softball today. I did start collecting duck pictures. I’ll get to posting those as soon as I write my duck post.
I’ve always heard bigger is better. To an extend I subscribe to that concept. But big things can come in small packages.
Take for instance two little things that can in the mail. One yesterday and one today. Both made me extremely happy. The first was a 32GB USB drive. It’s actually smaller in size than the 4GB I was using, but it’s bigger where it counts. Of course I’m only using a very small portion of its capacity, but I’ll figure out what to do with it.
The other little item I got is even smaller. It’s a 32GB Micro SD. I have a xoom tablet that I use for everything these days except for writing. I had filled up a 16GB micro sd card and have made some music and video purchase I wanted to include on the card. It’s, obviously, the same size as the 16GB in physical dimensions, but with twice the capacity.
Now why did I buy myself a couple little things? I felt like I deserved it. Why did I deserve it? Because I hit my one third mark. I’m now 150,000 words into my 2012 goal. I bribed myself with a couple little gifts for hitting a goal. A little less than half of those words are new fiction, the rest would be blog posts.I can’t remember the last time I’d written this many words in a year and I’m just getting started. I’ve got big plans and here’s what I’m planning.
I’m going to finish up My Teacher is a Werewolf. I’m only about half way with that one, but should be able to knock it out quickly. I need to record the next episode of Golden West. That story is really shaping up. Left off on a couple good cliffhangers. Then I’ll be starting Of Gnomes and Dwarves. As much as I hate to do it, To Fall From the Sky just isn’t going where I want, it’s not keeping my interest right now, and it’s slowing me down. I need to get into a work that’ll excite me again and get me fired up to sit and write.
Speaking of getting fired up, I’m getting a little ahead of myself here. I’m going to do the complete read through/edit of Jack Kane and the Statue of Liberty. I won’t count that 100% toward my word goal, but I will count the edits/rewrites as 1/4 word for each word edited. So I need to edit at least 5000 words per day to hit my writing goal. I think I can manage that. Once those edits are done, I’ll fire that over to Mike who’ll give it his once over and then it’s off to Beta Readers.
Only then will I begin Of Gnomes and Dwarves. I love everything about those books. I know that I love them more than they deserve as the writing is utter crap. I’ve done some reads of the start. It’s bloated, very slow in parts, even slower in the beginning, but has a great story to be told. I won’t be changing the story much, but I will change how it was written, paced, and make it a stronger story. I started it over 20 years ago. I think I’ve gotten a little better at this writing stuff.
Once I finish with that, I’m going to write the sequel to V&A Shipping. No, I haven’t gotten the first picked up by a publisher yet. I had told myself long ago not to write any sequels until I’d gotten the first in a series published. But I’ve got a wonderful idea for the sequel and it’s just begging to be told. If you liked the first, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the second.
My plan, after those two, is to write the sequel to Astel. Again, this is a sequel that’s been banging on the side of my head for years and needs to be written. I put out Astel over a year ago and many people have asked where the next book it. It’ll be there soon enough.
That’s what I’ve got scheduled for the near future. I’m not going to try and plan too far out. I might sneak in another My Teacher is a… depending on how the second is received. My Teacher is a Zombie has gotten good reviews by those who’ve read it, but sadly sales aren’t there. I know I need to do a lot more about this self promotion stuff, but I feel I need a bigger body of work for people to pick and choose from.
I still have a couple short stories out there that I’m waiting on edits for. I have covers. They’re awesome! Once I get the edits, the ebook will be assembled and BANG! Out there.
But right now I’m just spending a lot of time talking about writing instead of actually writing. So…
Initially I was Sneezy and Grumpy. I took my Doc’s advice and was Dopey and Sleepy. What I really want it to be Happy. Heck, I’d even been glad to be Bashful.
Today is a good day. My sinuses are feeling a little relief. It’s dark, it’s a little chilly (I’m still wearing shorts and a t-shirt) and it looks like rain is on the horizon once again.
My nose, on the other hand (or would it be other face, hmm) is red, raw, and sore. My ears hurt from all the nose blowing. The residual headache is a bother, but hey, I’ll get over that. At least I don’t have a leaky nose. Well, not as much as it was.
Yesterday I wanted to go see my best friend’s daughter run track. She’s really good at the hurdles even though she’s only just begun. She’s got those crazy long legs. Being that I used to run track, I miss watching all the events. I will make it to at least one of her meets this season.
I also missed my favorite daughter’s volleyball practice. Hearing her talk about it, I missed a good practice. I will be practicing with her later today and a little tomorrow. She’s got a tournament on Sunday and I want her to be prepared. From what she told me, she will be.
I’ve wanted to record. I think I’ll do that tonight or perhaps tomorrow. I need to record the latest episode of Golden West for the Action Pack Podcast. I need to record my story for Tee and Pip. I need to record the promo for the Action Pack. Unfortunately with my head as congested as it is (was) it just wasn’t going to happen. Even though I had an awesomely low voice because of all the snoring I’ve done the past couple of days, I couldn’t make it though more than a few words without coughing. That would have been an editing nightmare.
On the plus side, I knocked out 2500 words yesterday. Most of that in My Teacher is a Werewolf. This will be the next story in the Teacher series. I need to come up with a good title for the series. Something like Unnatural Teachings or something like that. I’ll give it more thought. I plan on doing more of these stories. Why? Because they’re fun to write and I can get into the story quickly. This one might be a little longer than the first, but hey, I’m good with longer. I already like where the story is going and I’m confident I’ll plow through the first draft quickly.
If I’m lucky, I’m past that little sticking point. I didn’t like struggling to write words. I still wrote every day and I know why some people might not write while sick or when they don’t feel well. But I’m happy I did it. I worked through a difficult time and I have more words. Even if some days it was only a slight amount, it was still words I didn’t have before.
Speaking of words, I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo. That should be no surprise. But I found something called JuNoWriMo. It’s basically NaNoWriMo in June. I’ll do both this year. My goal right now is to work on Of Gnomes and Dwarves book 1 in June, edit it in July, and work on Book 2 in November, and edit it in December. Then I’ll release those in 2013. Possibly sooner depending on how I feel about where the stories are at. Each book currently is at around 60,000 words. Both I wrote very quickly on the first draft so I’ll use those plot outlines as a guide, but I’m going to completely re-write them both.
These were the first two books I’d ever written and they’re rough. Very rough. But when I’d written them I had a vision of where I wanted to go and I did just that. I will revisit the universe and this time I’ll keep a character list as I go as those books have a lot of characters and I’m sure I’ll get lost if I don’t keep track. Even typing up this paragraph I’m remembering how much fun it was to write those stories. Maybe I won’t wait for June. J
There’s a lot of writing still to come this year. I’d better get on it. So…
Last night the Action Pack Podcast went live. The three of us involved with this endeavor are quite excited. The concept is serialized fiction spread out over a year. Each story will end on a cliffhanger and a new episode will come out each month. There will also be print editions available over at Flying Island Press. You can pick up the podcast at Action Pack Podcast. Stop by and let me know what you think.
My fellow authors, Mike Plested and Scott Roche, are also helping generate noise (buzz?) about the podcast. Stop on over at their sites and see what they’re all about. All three of us are quite busy podcasters and writers. Don’t forget to check out Dan Dan the Art Man, the man responsible for our artwork!
As for writing, it was another productive day. Got another 2000 words out. It nice when I hit a flow and can roll with it. Hopefully I can keep this pace up during Lent and carry it on beyond. I’m already 4 days ahead of my yearly writing schedule. This is important because the last thing I want to do is fall behind again. I was able to get caught up and now ahead. I see no reason to stop now.
I finished a short story and sat on it for a couple of days. I had three or four ‘ah-ha’ moments and those went into the revisions. I’m now waiting for a response and requested edits (edits will always be requested, I’d be surprised if they weren’t). I’m quite happy with how the story turned out. I can’t want to see how it does once it makes it out into the wild.
Now more about how I got to where I am today.
After spending nearly five years as a starving musician, I decided that being in a band just wasn’t in the cards. It was a good run, but unfortunately I could not motivate the guys beyond small clubs and it was all on my to do any promotion, book gigs, etc. Combine that with the lead singer wanting to be the only creative force in the band, and I felt stifled. I had creative ideas that I needed to get out.
I did not explain this in earlier updates, but this was when I really had to take a look at what I wanted to do with my life. In high school, I played D&D. Sean and I both played and continued to play as adults. I loved the game. I had decided to write a book based on our characters. Yes, one of ‘those’ books. There were many stops and starts during high school, in the Navy, even while I was in a band. I just could not get the story going.
After leaving the band, I had a great idea for the story. Yes, the characters were still based on the D&D characters, but everything D&D was out of it. Well, to some extent. There were still monsters and random encounters, but I had decided to make it more of a story and less of an adventure. I had to get them to meet in a way that made sense. I had to have a story that I could tell.
Well, suffice to say it sucked. I trashed it again.
Then I met a comic book artist. He was just getting started and he was GREAT! I had gone back to school at ITT Tech to get a degree and I wrote pages at night. He agreed to pencil the work. I got cranking on the script. I was excited. I was going to write a COMIC BOOK! WOO WOO!
The guy was really good. He went on to write Warrior Nun Arela, moved on to be an intern with Jim Lee (I got to go to the studio and meet his entire crew, that was awesome) and eventually moved on to Marvel and last I heard he was doing Catwoman for DC. He’s done well and I’m glad he did. I don’t know that doing a little independent comic with me would have helped him that much. Check out Pete Woods as he’s done great things in the field of comics.
So after this period of time, I kept on writing Of Gnomes and Dwarves as a comic. I had decided that the first run would be 15 issues telling one storyline and then I’d move on to the next storyline. I wrote 48 or 49 issues before i ran out of steam and could not find another artist. I tried submitting my work, but it was rough and I go no interest.
I dove back into school. It was very easy for me because it was basically a rehash of my Navy ‘C’ school. Getting ‘A’s was as easy as staying awake in class. My comic had been shelved, but I was still happy to talk about it to anyone and everyone who would hear about it. They all thought I was nuts, but that it was cool that I’d written something even if it wasn’t published.
I got to work on 8080s and 8088s and we even upgraded an 8088 to a 286. This was at a time when a 386 was cutting edge. If you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, don’t worry. These were IBM computers and the PC was just starting to take hold. It was before the computer explosion of the mid-90s. These things weren’t cheap, but they were getting there.
Then I met the woman who would become my wife. More on that, tomorrow.