Category Archives: Weekly Update

Weekly Update: Rumors of my rumors have been greatly exagerated.

Good Morning! If it’s not morning where you are or when you’re reading this, well, pretend. Imagination is a wonderful thing like that.

Much has been going on, but I’ve been so crazy busy that I haven’t had time to write or blog or nothing. I hate when that happens.

Half of the time off has been voluntary. The other half has been pain, headaches, work, stress, etc.  I missed my Lent goal, but I did get just over half of my goal. I came in just shy of the 88,000 I wanted to write during Lent. I guess that’s got to be good enough. During March I wrote 29,088 words and I didn’t even write half the days of the month. I feel good about the number, but I’m capable of writing so much more. Between family obligations and everything else, there just wasn’t more time to write. When I did eventually sit and get words written I would get a lot out (one day nearly 6,000 words). It’s just frustrating to look back and see all those holes in my word count spread sheet.

I keep waiting for the days to free up and give me a nice block of writing time (like right now while I write this blog post) but it’s not happening.

So what’s on my plate coming up?

1) Paradise Palms release and blog. I had planned on doing this under a pen name, but decided not to. This has a bit more grown up content than most of my work and I will note that in the novel description and on each blog post.

2) Billy Barbarian release and blog. I’m excited to get Billy out into the world. I’ve had a lot of great feedback on this book and I can’t wait to jump into book 2

3) My Teacher is a Vampire release. This will be the third in the Super Natural Learning series. I’m having a great time with these characters and I can’t wait to jump into the next book!

4) Astel re-release. I’ll be re-editing this book and putting out a cleaner version. I also can’t wait to write the sequel to this book.

5) Finish my giant robot book. I’m currently 22,000 words into this book and chugging along. I will probably end up higher than the 80,000 words I’ve projected for the novel and I’m good with that. I’ve done extensive world building (galaxy building?) that I hadn’t done in the V&A Shipping universe. This makes a great addition to collection and I’m already excited to work on the sequel.

6) WRITE MOAR! I don’t feel like I’m getting words out fast enough. I’m feeling a little pressure, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s forcing me to keep on a tight timeline and not get distracted. I’ve got dates plotted and set up and I’m attempting to hit all my targets. I’m confident and as long as I can find a little more free time to write I’ll have no trouble hitting those goals.

7) Short Stories have been getting rejected all over the place, BUT, I’m getting much better rejections with wording like “After reading and discussing it, and then holding onto it through several rounds of further consideration…”. Yes, still a rejection, but so much closer to an acceptance to a PRO market. Yes, PRO market. Everything I’ve had published to date has been semi-pro, but I’m trying to step up my game.

There is so much going on that I’m doing my best to keep everything straight. Hopefully I’ll have news later.

OH! I almost forgot. Between my two goodreads giveaways I have over 1000 entrants. I call that quite a success and I can’t wait to get the books in the mail (tomorrow?).

There’s a lot going on and I’ve got a lot of words to write.

Until Next Time!

WOO WOO!

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Weekly Update: A week filled with days.

Wow! When was the last time I was in here posting about what’s going on with all that’s going on?

1) Sputtery Truck: Yes, it was sputtery truck again. Dag nab it. But the Millican helped me figger it out once more and after replacing a bad coil (remember that I replaced all of those?) sputtery truck stopped with all the suptteriness and once again is happy. One day I hope it’ll stop acting up and demanding attention from me, but he, who knows what that’ll happen.

2) Moving: This might be something in my very near future. I will keep you posted. This isn’t a bad thing. This is a good thing. Jay might have an office one day soon! WOO WOO!

3) Writing: Last week I suffered from work. It ate up my brain and made it extremely difficult to get anything done. Well, that and a large number of personal things (see #2) that kept me coming and going and losing track of time all together. My hope is that next week will afford me at least some time to sit down and make the keys go clickety-clack and get further ahead with my latest project. Writing about Giant Robots is AWESOME! I wish I had this idea before, but hey, the stars aligned, my brain fired the right synapi, and POW! I’ve now got Giant Robots living in my brain along with all the other characters.

If I keep pace, and stay on schedule for this year and next, J.R. Murdock will be putting out a glut of books in 24 months. Already I’ve got 4 out, and another 7 on the way (all completely written and in various stages of edits/getting covers/etc). But I have many more in my head screaming to get out. To give you a quick idea, the Supernatural Learning series will see 3 more titles this year and 4 next year. Those are short and I can write them quickly, and I have a blast writing them. I also have an idea for another such series that will be intended for younger readers that will be around the same length (20,000-25,000 words) and I’ve got 5 I want to write in that series over the next two years. And, of course, I’ve got Billy II, Of Gnomes and Dwarves II, Life of Lists, Almost-Super Heroes, V&A III, To Fall From the Sky, Golden West Season 2. I’ve got so many ideas and my spreadsheet is bursting at the seams!

Yes, my PLAN is to write at least 365,000 words a year. I know I can keep up the output. It’s just a matter of not getting distracted. I hope to write even more than that, but we’ll have to see how it goes. On a good day I’m sitting and putting out 5,000 words. On a bad day I’ll only get out 1,000. Then I’ve had a series of missed days that are hurting me more than you can possibly know. Obviously writing these blog posts slows me down, but I feel the need to empty my brain of all these thoughts just to help keep them straight.

4) Submitting: Yes, I’m going to self-pub everything. I’m going to blog as much as I can. But I’m submitting short stories to major magazines for exposure. To try and get my name out there and get people talking about me. I want to try and generate some word of mouth about my works.

The bad news, no new acceptances. The good news? I’ve gotten better rejections. I’ve also had stories held for a lot longer than your standard rejection. What do I mean by longer? Meaning at least twice as long as a standard rejection (I’ve done my own tracking over the years and I have also checked the Grinder to see what others are averaging). What do I mean by ‘better rejections’? I mean that I’m getting different form letters. One actually said “After being reviewed and held for additional consideration…” This tells me that I was damned close to getting that one published. I, of course, re-read it and sent it right back out.

Suddenly I’ve found myself in a strange land where I don’t have any ideas for short stories. Everything I want to write is novel (or novella). I also can’t think of any good shorts I’d like to write, but I know when those ideas come, I’ll write them up and get them into the submission wheel.

5) RSS Reader: gReader has been my feed reader for some time. I was sad to see that Google decided to stop supporting it (coming June or July). I moved over to Feedly after much research and trying out other readers. This wasn’t something I wanted to stop and spend time to perform, but I needed to make sure I took care of this before I didn’t have the ability to take care of it.

6) Keyboard search 2013: I’m a tech geek. What can I say. I’m love me some technology. I’ll write up a much longer post much like I did with my mouse search. I need a keyboard that can stand up to endless hours of typing and bashing out words. I also want one that’s got programmable buttons, back lighting would be nice. Something that’s not obscenely large. I don’t mind weird looking (you’ve seen my mouse, right?). I’ve also like it to be mechanical. Yes, I know that means it’ll be a little louder than what I currently use, but that also means it’ll last longer. Like I said, I’ll write all those up later and get it posted with pictures and my thoughts about the whole process. Should be fun.

7) My Favorite Daughter: The kid is playing volleyball and still having a great time of it. She’s off next week fro Spring Break and we’ll be taking a trip up to Lemoore to visit family for Easter. Should be a great time. We haven’t been up there since June and it’ll be fun to take a long drive. Now that Sputtery Truck is cooperating I feel better about the drive.

8) Work: Yes, work has been eating my brain. The good news, much of what I’ve been toiling away at is going to a head and will be going out soon enough. It’s been beat up, wrung out, and stomped on enough to make my head spin and it seems that each time I sit down, my instant messenger is going off. If I try to get up, my instant messenger is going off. I’ll have a steady flood of email. I’ll be working on a defect. Trying to get things under control only to have more dumped on my plate. Thankfully things are starting to slow back down to a normal pace and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

That being said, yes, I work for AT&T. I’ve said this before. Sadly, the West did not ratify a contract so I’m on alert should a strike happen. If a strike happens I could be called out at a moment’s notice to fill the spot of a union member who’s out. That’s part of the job and I need to be ready. Needless to say, it puts me a little on edge being that I’d like to go out of town next week. We’ll see how that goes. Both sides are at the bargaining table trying to hammer out a deal.

I think that gets you up to speed on all that I’ve been up to. Whew. I need to stop letting so much time pass by between posts. Oh, I also need to post a movie review of the Groods. That was a fun movie. 🙂

Until Next Week!

WOO WOO!

Weekly Update: Why Are Writers Writing about Writing?

Yeah yeah yeah, this is my third installment of my weekly update this week, but I’ve got things to say. I won’t mention that Sputtery Truck is all Sputtery once again. I’ll do that in my fourth installment of the Weekly Update. Or I’ll just fix the darn thing and shut up about it.

I’ve noticed lately (okay, I’ve always noticed) that there are a lot of writers talking about writing. It doesn’t matter if it’s about how to write a book or a short story, how to write a synopsis, how to write a query letter, how to find an agent, how to self-publish your book (OMG search on ebook pricing and watch the results. Good Gravy!). One thing I know for sure is that there is an abundance of information that others have written and called advice. Yes, I’ve been guilty of it as well. On more than one occasion, one more than one podcast, on more than one blog.

What is it with writers writing about writing?

Mike Stackpole said it best that writing about writing and (more often that not) talking about writing is sometimes more fun that actually writing. Writing is a lonely thing to do and many writers, given the chance, will talk about what they do ad nauseum. Yes, again I’m guilty. But I’ve always wondered, even as I look back at my own writing advice, what was the point?

Sure, there’s the chance to teach someone else about writing. There’s the opportunity to interact with other writers who may like your wit or your turn of a phrase. There may even be a chance to interact with other writers that you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to interact with had you not written something about writing.

But overall, what’s the point?

I ask this for two reasons. Let me start out with #1: Other authors most likely won’t buy your book. Sure there will be those close friends that will pick up your book out of support. There will be some that may actually read it. But for the most part, other authors (and mostly wannabe authors) will read your advice and you’ll never even hear from them. It’s a painful cycle that less than 10% of those who hear or read your words of advice will ever interact with you. Trust me. I see my numbers on my Unorthodox Writing Tips. I know who’s engaged me in conversation. I’ve talked to other podcasters with writing advice podcasts. I know some of their numbers compared to their amount of feedback. It’s severe.

Why did I stop posting Unorthodox Writing Tips? Because it wasn’t accomplishing what I had intended to accomplish. It was words I wrote that served no purpose. (Well hey! Why am I writing this post?). Pfft, procrastination, most likely. I guess just making an observation. An evolution from writing advice to writers to writing articles for fans. This one is somewhere in the middle I hope.

Now I’m going to say something that will either come off as profound or just annoy everyone I know. All writing advice is crap. All writing advice is worth your time.

It just depends on who you are and where you’re at with your writing. Honestly. Almost all the writing, editing, pricing, etc, advice that I read isn’t important to me. I’ve been involved with the writing community, reading writing advice, trying things out, doing things and failing, doing things and succeeding, for going on 20 years now. I say that and it scares me a little bit. Now much of that 20 years is on again and off again, but I’ve been wanting to be a writer for very long time. It’s just recently that I’ve gotten serious about applying everything that I’ve read, said, and learned. It’s been a very long road to get to where I’m at and I’ve taken my lumps along the way. I won’t lie. It’s been really hard and I don’t expect it to get any easier any time soon.

Will this stop anyone from offering up advice? Probably not. I wouldn’t begrudge anyone doing something that makes them feel good when it comes to writing. Like I said, it’s tough, it’s lonely, and camaraderie is a good thing. If you can surround yourself with a great bunch of writers than more power to you! Keep at it for as long as you feel you need to. Build great friendships. Interact and learn! Don’t just interact. Expand your thought process beyond just reading of listening to that advice. Engage with people. Get out of your comfort zone. Give feedback to those that give you that advice.

I posted an unorthodox writing tip that was rather ironic. When to say when. When to stop taking advice and just write. There’s also a point, I feel, where a writer needs to stop giving advice and just write. That’s where I’m at these days.

Yes, last year I wrote a lot. I blogged a lot. I wrote a bunch of writing advice even. I took some of that advice to heart. That’s why I’m not writing advice any more. It wasn’t getting me what I was hoping for and that was to attract fans. Yes, there are a couple writers that are fans of my work, but for the most part, those who read my work aren’t writers.

Then there’s point #2 (you thought I forgot about point #2 and was just going to keep rambling, didn’t you? Sure you did. Don’t lie. I know I almost forgot about point #2). Writers are a needy lot. Needy like “please give me validation! Please publish my work! Please help me be a better writer! Please help me fix this story!”

Okay, stop it! Just stop right there (I almost said write there, LOL). Once you’ve stopped I want you to do something. Assess where you are as a writer. Are you just starting out? Have you been writing for 30 years?Are you unpublished? Have you been published multiple times? One thing that you’ll understand is there are different levels of need when it comes to being a writer.

One level is those just starting out. They are desperately seeking validation. They want to know what they’re doing is good enough. They want someone to pat them on the bum and say “good writer, have a cookie”. They want to get their work out into the world and have everyone rave about how good it is.

Sorry starting writer. Your writing is crap. It’ll be crap for a long time to come. Trust me on this one. No matter how badly you want validation, you’re not there. You just aren’t. You won’t make 100% of your free throws your first time on the court. You won’t run a 4 minute mile your first time and the track. You won’t write a best seller the first time you sit down at the keyboard. It’s just not going to happen. It’s a learning curve and for some people it’s steep and will take years to over come. Others will run up a little hill and be on their way. It doesn’t matter. You will need time to learn your process and no one on this Earth can learn it for you.

That being said… quit asking. I’m about to unsubscribe to a dozen writing forums because there are SO many needy writers out there asking the most basic of questions. I’m pretty sure most of them are looking for a magic bullet to make them a better writer. I know I was on that quest for years. What did I do? Did I ask and ask and ask and ignore ignore ignore?

NO!

I read and read and read. I read in my genre, I read out of my genre, I read novels, I read short stories, I read magazine articles, I read books on writing, I read on websites, I read in forums. I did this for a few years before even participating in the discussion. I wanted to have a certain level of knowledge that I knew wasn’t going to be bestowed upon me by the great writing fairy in the sky.

I also wrote. I wrote bad fiction with a crazy, wild-eyed need! I had a desire to get stories out of my head to get the voices to stop talking to me. I had ups, I had downs. I finished a lot of stories, I didn’t finish twice as many as I finished. I wrote, I submitted, I got rejected time and again. I let it get to me and stopped writing. I picked myself back up and tried again.

What am I trying to say? I’m saying that no one just handed me the ability to write a novel and to complete what I started. I worked very hard to be able to write the stories I write. Some are good, some a terrible, but overall I enjoy my own writing enough to keep at it. You may not like what I write. Others may think I’m totally nuts writing the dog poo that I put on a page. Hey, art is subjective. (someone once said about my writing : Wow! That’s a lot of dialogue) . None of that matters (well, except people liking my work. That’s the point of this whole post is to find an audience.

I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of authors have stopped giving you advice. J.A. Konrath blogs only lightly compared to when he started. Mike Stackpole hasn’t put out an issue of the Secrets in months. Jake Bible has stopped podcasting (an giving away his fiction). Of course there are many more, I’m just listing a few that have changed their tactics. There will always be someone to fill the void. There will always be a lot of advice out there.

My point is to not ask, but do you due diligence first. Do your home work. Don’t just ask and wait for someone to do it for you. If you want to write you cannot be lazy about this. You need to put in the hours, the days, weeks, months, years to actually improve your craft. You need to finish a story, book, collection of books. Only then will you realize what those stories are lacking and be able to either truck that novel, rewrite that novel from the start, or chop it into pieces and try again. Do the work needed to get better. Don’t expect someone to tell you how to get there. This is an individual path and you must take it yourself.

Wow. That’s long. Isn’t it? Where I’m going with all this is that there is advice out there if you look for it. There are some great books on writing if you look for them. This advice will never get bad or grow stale. It’ll come from published authors and unpublished authors alike. Some will still doling out advice, others have moved on. Writers will always write about writing just like they will always talk about writing. Why? It feels good.

Until Next Time!

WOO WOO!

Weekly Update: Cancelling Magazine Subscriptions.

Let me start by saying that yesterday would have been my father’s 70th birthday. I still miss him.

In lighter news (okay, maybe not lighter, but not as sad as losing your father news), today I cancelled my magazine subscriptions. I did this for a variety of reasons. I won’t tell you which magazines I was subscribed to or which issues I had with which magazines. If you take away anything from this, understand that this is a general frustration.

The most common writing advice you see ALL OVER is ‘show don’t tell’. I mean, it’s all over the place. Honestly, do a search. You’ll see reference after reference. From Stephen King to Michael Stackpole to me. You’ll see it in writing forums. You’ll see examples of what to do and what not to do. Mostly it’ll explain why not to tell, or, in other words, explain.

Trust me, this isn’t going to be writing 101, I’ll get to the point in just a minute, keep with me here.

When you write a short story, you have a limited number of words to get a story across. It’s very easy to explain what’s happening in your story. Very easy. So easy that many writers will do this (yet still complain about writing a synopsis of a novel which is basically explaining your story). So when someone starts a story out explaining the history of the world they’re about to throw me into, and then spend the rest of the story explaining events that happen, and then spend half the story still explaining things to me, and throw in one line of dialogue, and then go back to explaining the story to me, I get bored.

Now I know you’re asking yourself, why did I subscribe to these magazines in the first place?

Well, it was an investment. I figured if I wanted to get printed in these PRO level magazines, I needed to read and see what kind of stories they were accepting. They accept a wide range of stories and I write a wide range of stories. I’ve been rejected time and again. I could have kept banging my head against a wall or I could have figured out why I was getting rejected. So I subscribed to a number of magazines.

Now, in their defense, there are a few gems out there. Not many, but there are gems. There are stories that actually have a story, not an explanation of a story. What I felt is that these stories were so far and few between, I could no longer justify keeping my subscriptions. I didn’t want to keep reading stories that bored me to tears where I kept thinking “I wrote like this when I first started writing and got rejected because I was explaining a story”.

I could rant on the show don’t tell business for a long time, but there’s another reason I cancelled. The way the magazines work on the Kindle. Sure they were only a couple bucks a month (each) and that wasn’t a big investment. The deal breaker for me was that if I was reading a novella in one of the magazines and wanted to come back to it later, it would never remember my place. Maybe i could have hassled with setting a bookmark, but when I’m in a novel it REMEMBERS my place for me. This is a frustration I’ve suffered more than once and I know what I could do about it, it’s just the fact that I shouldn’t have to do it.

So, sadly, I’ve decided to cancel my magazine subscriptions. I have a better idea of what they publish and don’t think I need to keep looking. What I have concluded is that they publish what they want and what they prefer. The sad fact will remain that I want to write stories that actually reveal a story to the reader, not read like a synopsis of a half-way decent book. I don’t want a story explained to me. I don’t want a story told to me. I want to experience a story and sadly the magazines I was reading (again, all professional level magazines) aren’t delivering.

It’s with a heavy heart that I logged into my kindle account, and hit cancel.

What are your experience with some short story magazines? Good? Bad? Indifferent? I’ve love to hear from you.

Until Next Week!

WOO WOO!

Weekly Update: Giving Books away and what I learned.

Last week I did a giveaway on Murdockian Tales (you can still buy a copy for $2.99 or a print copy for $7.99). It’s a short story collection and I’m happy with the stories I chose to put in there. They give a good representation of my work to-date even if I’ve done a lot of writing since these stories were written. Most of those are on submission and therefore not included in the collection.

So the big question I’m sure will be on everyone’s mind will be “So what did you learn through the process?” Well, let me tell you first off that I’ll be learning from this for some time. That’s just the way it goes. But I did learn a lot during the process. Here’s what I learned.

I learned that people like getting things for free. Well, okay, I already knew that, but I didn’t realize just how much. Over the course of the freebie deal I gave away 339 copies of Murdockian Tales making it my most widely distributed book so far.

I learned that free doesn’t always equate to sales. I did, however, sell two copies of V&A Shipping (both people told me they picked it up because they found me from the Free deal. I also sold a print copy of Murdockian Tales. So out of the 339 copies I gave away, I sold 3. I was hoping for a slightly better return, but at least I know people are out there with copies of my short story anthology. If they like what they read, hopefully they’ll be back. At the front and the back of the collection I have my URLs. Hopefully that will drive some traffic to the blog and generate more sales.

I learned that during the giveaway I did not encounter more traffic than normal. I did get one person that found me by doing a google search on Murdockian. I can only assume that person came from the freebie deal.

Now that the free is over, hopefully people will read it. I’m confident that most won’t. Most probably picked it up just because it was free. I did this 100% for exposure. To get my name out there. Nothing more. If I pick up a couple new readers, then it was worth it. If I don’t, it was a learning experience. I’ll learn from it and try again with another title at another time. I’ve got a lot of books to get out into the world and this helped move a lot of books only people’s kindle devices.

I have noticed that Kobo, Smashwords, and Nook result in nearly no sales for me. I find this sad. I like these devices and their reading apps. Well, Kobo and Nook. I cannot get into iBookstore because I don’t have a mac (and won’t be buying one any time soon). I wish Apple would fix that and allow anyone one to upload their books. I won’t see any sales increase in those sites as I released Murdockian Tales through KDP Select (amazon only). But I’m hopeful that my name will start to spread from this.

All in all it was a good experience. I had a lot of people retweet me on twitter, like me on facebook, join me on google plus, and social media really helped propel this book up the charts. Yes, it was a free book, but I was still excited to see it peak out at #5 on SciFi short stories and #55 on Free SciFi. As I said, during the week I gave away 339 copies. I’m astonished. I honestly didn’t expect to give away quite so many copies. I would have been happy with 100. I actually think I would have been happy giving away 50. But 339? I’m overjoyed. I think this is outstanding. I couldn’t ask for more.

I kept a level head through all of this. I understand the ‘Amazon Rush’ concept of having as many people buy your book on release day to try and give it an extra push. I understand getting your name out there and trying to get as many people as possible to buy your book. I also understand the need for social media to accomplish these. I did all of that and wow did it work.

I’ve got a podcast to edit and get produced. I’ve got recording to do. I’ve got words to write (I finished My Teacher is a Vampire and started a giant-robot story that will be set in the V&A Shipping universe). I’ve got editing to do (I’ve got 4 completed books to go through and do rewrites and 2 to apply edits to). I’ve got so many words I want to get done this year and a lot of books I’d like to release this year. It’s an exciting time! Watch for more!

Until Next Time!

WOO WOO!

Weekly Update: Good Morning!

It’s been calm, smooth sailing around here lately. If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

I’m just over half-way through My Teacher is a Vampire (it’ll weigh in around 20,000 words when I’m done). Hopefully all subsequent books will weigh in between 20,000-30,000. These are middle-grade/YA books and I want to keep them short for those with short attention spans. I’ve got big plans for this series and I’m having fun with it. I would like to write 3 of these a year and give the series time to grow that I know it’ll need.

Oh! And I’m doing a Goodreads Giveaway! My Teacher is a Zombie GoodReads Giveaway! If you’ve got Facebook, you’ve got GoodReads. Check it out, sign up to get a copy.

That being said, I’m also doing a giveaway for V&A Shipping on GoodReads as well! Check this one out also.

Lastly, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m done with V&A Shipping II. One thing I’m looking for, if you enjoyed reading (or listening to) V&A Shipping and want to read V&A Shipping II before anyone else, head on over to Amazon, GoodReads, Barnes and Nobel, Smashwords, or anywhere you find the title and leave me a review! Send me a link to your review (twitter me, facebook me, email me, tape it to a rock and throw it through my window) and I’ll add you to a list. Once I’ve got the book through rewrites and edits, I’ll send you an advanced ecopy so you can laugh at all your friends that will have to wait until it’s out. This will be at least a month before it goes on sale later this year.

So that’s the news type stuff. A lot of personal things went on over the weekend and will likely keep going on this week. I will still try to hit my word count, but when a friend needs you, everything else is secondary. Words will happen when words happen. That’s all I have to say about that.

Speaking of words, even with all that’s going on, I’m still playing catch up on my annual word goal. Currently I’m 17,000 words behind schedule and slowly, ever so slowly, getting caught up. My Lent goal is 2000 words a day and with the bumps I’ve hit, I’m currently 4700 words behind on that goal and trying to catch that one as well. For those keeping score at home, that’s nearly 79% of the goal I set. I’m not too bad off, but I don’t want to let that number slip. I want to hit this goal this year and at the very least beat last year’s word count (I was off by 19115 words or 78.28% of my goal). I think I can do this as I’m in a better position this year and much more focused than I was at the start of last year. Of course losing the first month of the year put me at a disadvantage, but I know over all I’ll be able to get to my goal. Focus and dedication.

In reading news, I’ve signed up for a number of GoodReads giveaways and started rating a lot of books I’ve read over the years. I also picked up the Bundle of Holding (Thank you Mur!). There’s some great books on this list and part of your purchase goes to charity. So why not?

I’ll be heading over to http://stormwolf.com (author site for Mike Stackpole) and picking up his latest self-published work. He’s been an inspiration for me to self-publish my own works.

Finally Nathan Lowell is re-releasing his Golden Age of the Solar Clipper series as self published works. I want to pick these up not because I don’t own them already, but because I really want to see Nathan Succeed. He’s got a number of sites, but this one should get you to everywhere you want to go.

So many words, so little time. There are a LOT of books I’ve bought that I’d love to read, but there are only so many hours in the day and I need to spend time watching videos of cats doing stupid things or demolition gone wrong. Speaking of which, I’m late on getting over to watch a video about dogs chasing their tails.

Until Next Week!

WOO WOO!

Weekly Update: Wishing for more time doesn’t make it happen.

I often wish there were more hours in the day. Or perhaps I could find a cure for sleep so I don’t need to sleep and could gain those extra hours back in my day and get more things done that I want to get done. I have a lot of ambitions and sometimes I need to keep my excitement in check so I don’t go running around like a chicken with my head cut off and accomplish a whole lot of nothing.

So what have I done that’s making me wish for more time? Oh, a little of this, a little of that, and finishing the first draft of two books!

Golden West: Season 1 is now complete. I’ll be podcasting the last two episodes (the final episode is double-sized). I’ll also be doing re-writes as needed and getting it ready for podiobooks. Once the rewrites are done, it’ll be off to my awesome first readers who’ll tell me where it sucks and help me fix it, then I’ll get a cover for it and BAM! (it’s a Western, Bam! like a gun. get it? Oh, nevermind) it’ll be available in print and ebook formats.

What else did I finish? Oh yeah! V&A Shipping II is now complete! I’ll be doing the same thing with this (re-writes, edits, covers, pazowie! print and ebook). I’m excited about the end of both of these books. The climaxes took different turns than I had anticipated. Yes, I plotted ’em (even though it doesn’t seem like I did) and I knew how the books were supposed to end. That’s the joy of writing, things don’t always turn out the way you expect them to.

I won’t give up any details about the end of either of the books. You’ll have to wait until you get the stories into your hot little hands! Trust me, they’ll be worth it.

Needless to say both of these books left me emotionally drained. I mean wow! It was an exciting high finishing, but holy carp! I’m spent. I feel like a wrung out dishrag. I feel like I should take a week off.

Only thing is, I’m not going to! Why? Why? I have goals and targets and deadlines. I’m not just writing to have fun anymore (although I’m having a blast!) I’m writing to actually make a tiny profit. A big thank you to all who’ve bought any of my titles recently. You’ve bought me a wonderful dinner that I enjoyed immensely! Hopefully after this month I’ll have enough to buy another.

So what’s my current goal/target that I’m on? I’m on two, actually. The first is my annual goal. I’m shooting for 365,000 words of new fiction (last year I finished with 267,000 words of new fiction. The rest of the 450,000 words was blog posts). So yes, this may seem smaller than my 450,000 word goal of last year, but this is all new fiction. That means I’ll have more content by the end of this year. I’m forcing myself to complete books that have been rattling around inside my head for YEARS! These characters want out! I need to get them out.

Anyway, I’m currently 23,000 words behind on my annual goal. I’m a slacker and I know it. Regardless, I’m pressing on. Work is letting up enough that I can finish my day and have brain power left to write, relax with the fam, and enjoy what I’m doing. I still have a lot of catching up to do, so that’s why I’m happy to be on my Lent goal.

No, I don’t formally subscribe to the Lent thing. I just use it as an excuse to write more words! My annual goal is to average 1000 words per day. That’s not a lot. During Lent, JuNoWriMo, and NaNoWriMo I’ll be upping the ante to 2000 words per day. Yes, that’s going to be difficult, but think about this for one moment. If I hit those targets (or just get close) that’s 88,000 words for Lent, 60,000 words for JuNoWriMo, and 60,000 words for NaNoWriMo. That’s a huge chunk of my annual goal. For just those 3 months that’s nearly 55% of my annual goal. That means I don’t need to fight and kick and cry and scream. I just need to really focus for 3 months and I’m halfway there.

So, I’m going to get caught up during Lent if I stick to my writing schedule. Sure, something might derail me, but if I pound on the keyboard and knock out 2000 words per day when I can, I’ll still get close to that 88,000 word goal during Lent. Last year I didn’t hit my goal, but you know what? I got darned close. I got to nearly 80% of my target. That’s not too shabby considering I was just getting started with the whole “I’m going to get serious about this writing business.” I’m even more serious now and I’m going to do my damnedest to hit that target this year. I’m only 1100 words behind (missed the first two days because I’m stupid) but I’m getting caught up. Of course writing the end of two different books helped a bundle.

So what’s next on my list other than edits and re-writes for 6 different books (Billy Barbarian, Paradise Palms, Of Gnomes and Dwarves: Book 1: Chance Encounters, V & A Shipping II, Golden West, Astel (re-edits)). Well, let me tell you what’s next.

First off I’m going to write another My Teacher is a… This time it’ll be vampire. Depending on how well that goes I may do My Teachers is a Robot right after. Those will both weigh in around 15,000-20,000 words. Meaning I can get them both done during Lent. Awesome, right?

I also want to finally finish up To Fall From the Sky. Those characters have been banging on my head to get their stories complete since I dropped them last year. I know that book will require a lot of editing, cleaning up, and rewriting, but I’m anxious to get to it. I still think it’ll end up being a fun story.

After that I want to write Of Gnomes and Dwarves: Book 2: Mount Astoon (well, re-write really.) This was the second book I’d ever written and although it’s a good book, it is in desperate need of being 100% re-written.

THEN! I’m on to Life of Lists.

Then!

Okay, okay, I’ll slow down. Like I said, once I get started it’s hard to slow down.

So how am I keeping all this straight in my head? Well, I’m not. If you’re a writerly type then you’ve probably heard of the Magic Spreadsheet. yeah, neither had I. Okay, I’m lying. I’m good like that.

So the Magic Spreadsheet allows you to track your daily writing as a means to encourage yourself to write daily. It also shows you who else is writing, their numbers, and you can challenge another person to write more, it’s a social kind of thing. I get it. Writers are needy, they need interaction with others, etc. So this is a great place to see how you’re doing when you compare yourself with others.

Well, most people this is encouragement. Others might get frustrated when they put down 200 words one day, nothing the next, 120 words here, and peck away at their novel. Then they’d see someone like me pumping out 1000-4500 words a day and I’m not participating there because I don’t want to depress anyone or discourage anyone from writing. Any numbers are good numbers. If you’re using the magic spreadsheet or if you’ve got your own google doc going or you’re like me and you carry around your word count spreadsheet with you everywhere you go, write and track! Do you need help getting something set up? Get ahold of me. I’ll get you started!

I said write daily and track what you write. It’s the only way to keep yourself on track. Set a target and figure out how much you need to write daily to get to that target. Keep it in front of you! Open it every single day! Guilt yourself into writing if you don’t see your numbers going up. Reward yourself if you are ahead of target. Get those words written. GO GO GO! WRITE WRITE WRITE!

Speaking of going and writing, I’d better get at it. I’ve got a LOT of words I want to write this year and these blog posts no longer count toward that word goal.

Until Next Time!

WOO WOO!

Weekly Update: Update o’rama!

The biggest news of the week: Sputtery Truck isn’t so Sputtery anymore.

For those that were playing along at home, I have a Dodge Ram 1500 (yes, I drive a big truck) and I’ve had a check engine light for a couple years. Every time I’ve fixed one thing, something else has set it off. This last round I was getting a misfire on cylinder 7. The Millican assisted me in replacing all the plugs and coils (save one). This cured the misfire issue and the check engine light.

The I got the Check Engine Light once more. Yeah, I wasn’t surprised at this point. The code was no longer a misfire (which we both thought because of the one plug we couldn’t get out. Oh, no. Why would it be that simple? Oh, hell no! Let’s be a TOTALLY different code this time that I’ve never seen. Let’s make Jay work for this one.

fuel system too lean bank 2

What? Really? Too lean? That means it’s getting too much air. So The Millican and I went back through the manifold we needed to take off to get to the plugs and coils and double checked that everything was tight and secure and we couldn’t hear any leaks. Color me confused.

The Check Engine light that has become the bane of my existence would go on, turn off after a couple days, go on and laugh in my face, turn off after a couple days. Well, being that I needed to get Sputtery Truck smogged, I took the opportunity to get it smogged during one of the Check Engine Light of doom’s down periods. The men were happy to see me as no one else was in the shop. The engine was running smooth. I was hopeful.

Hah, silly me. I new something was wrong the moment the guy came back in and said something to the effect of: “Wow! I’ve never seen anyone fail so high before. 8%! You must be getting terrible gas mileage. I have to save this one.”

Yeah, thank you for pass or free retest.

The failure at the smog place showed that I was running way too rich, not way too lean. So I bit the bullet and took Sputtery Truck to get looked at. Again. I explained to the mechanics what I’d done already (an entire history in three part harmony and a bunch of pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what it was). They were impressed with all I’d done to keep Sputtery Truck running. I felt proud. Why? I don’t know. Third base!

So they spent about 30 minutes poking and prodding around and finally determined that my O2 sensor on the passenger side before the catalytic convertor was bad. That made sense. It was reading too lean, the engine pumped in more gas to compensate, making it partially flood the engine and causing it to sputtery.

HOORAY! An O2 sensor, an oil change and some fuel injector service and Sputery Truck was back on the road happier than ever. SO! It’s been a few days and still running smoothly and no Check Engine Light of Doom! I’m going to run it for another few days to make sure it doesn’t come on, get it smogged, pay my registration, and we’ll be good once more.

My Favorite Daughter has no tournaments for the month of February. Yeah! Just lots and lots of practice. She’s busy doing her best.

Books! My Teacher is a Zombie and My Teacher is a Werewolf might, just might, find a home in the library. I’m not sure what’ll happen, but one of my favorite daughter’s friend’s mom works at the library and knows the acquisition librarian for the district. She’s going to show her my books and we’ll see what happens. They’re middle grade books and she was excited to see not just the covers, but the titles. I guess middle-school kids are big into the Zombies. WOO WOO!

I put the finishing touches on Golden West Season 1 last night. I’ll be doing some recording and I have the final two episodes written. I know I’m slacking off on that. I’m sorry! Life has been full of life type things that have prevented me from sitting in front of a mike in a quiet room.

Now that I’ve gotten that one out of the way, I’m off to finish V&A Shipping II as well as get the edits done on Paradise Palms and Billy Barbarian (My next two books to release). THEN I’ll be working on My Teacher is a Vampire which will see Stanley and the gang during summer school before the get to High School. I then plan on writing 3 books for each grade in the Supernatural Learning series. Each story is stand alone, but will build on a bigger picture. So if someone were to read them all, they’d be able to follow all the threads, but could pick up any to read.

So I might be adding more books to my publication schedule than I thought.

Oh! And just a heads up for any who really care. I’ll be using the pen name R.J. Durmock for books like Paradise Palms, Life of Lists, and other thriller type books. These will have more of an adult theme and being that V&A Shipping, Billy Barbarian, and the Supernatural Learning books are better for an all ages type of read, I don’t want a kid to pick up My Teacher is a Zombie and then Paradise Palms and go WHOA! Didn’t see that coming.

Ok, I’m off to go make some words happen, get some words recorded, get a podcast produced, and find somewhere in there to take a nap.

Until Next Week!

WOO WOO!

Weekly Update: Hey! It’s February already!

Where did January escape to? Wow that went by so fast. Well, in some aspects it did. In other aspects it was dreadfully long.

So work tried its best to take my life and for the most part I escaped unscathed. It wasn’t easy and a hard battle was fought. Unfortunately it’s bleeding over into February, but most of what’s been taking up so much of my time is starting to back off and that’s a good thing. I won’t go into details because it’ll bore you to tears. Suffice to say an interface didn’t want to cooperate with the code I’d written that worked last year, then stopped working this year. With no answers it was nose to the grindstone until something surfaced that looked like a solution. We’re mostly past that now and onto other odd issues, many that I have a vague idea how to correct.

Sputtery truck didn’t want to smog. The Millican and I replaced all the plugs and coils as I was getting a misfire on cylinder 7. Sadly there was one plug we could not remove and not I’m getting the check engine light for ‘running too lean bank 2’. I decided to see what the smog folk would tell me and they say it’s running too rich! Well, that seems to tell me that the one plug I was able to back out a little must not be firing properly so unburned fuel is escaping straight out the tailpipe. That’s not good. This isn’t something I can do on my own and with the advice of the Millican I’ll be taking Sputtery truck to the shop some time this week to see if that one plug can be removed and a good plug inserted. I’m just hoping it’s not a big ticket item. I’m tired of dumping money into that truck, but I’m too deep to back out now.

My favorite daughter had a volleyball tournament this weekend! It was a tough battle. They lost the first two matches, then rallied back and won the final match (against a team that’d nearly beaten the other two teams). It was painful and stressful and I had to play spiderman at one point as no one was about to climb the 15 feet (maybe 12) feet up the closed bleachers to fetch a stray ball. Once I was at the top looking down, I quickly figured out why. Thankfully the ref was spotting me. I made it back to my seat and continued my loud, obnoxious shouting and yelling (some call it cheering) and whistling.

So all this writing stuff. Yeah. January wasn’t so good of a month. I plan on making up for that. Though I have gotten a lot of web work done. For myself. For my step-mom. For my aunt. And for my favorite daughter’s volleyball team.I’ve had a lot of fun and will be having more fun this week as well. None of it is overly complicated, just time consuming. I need to remember, a little bit here, a little bit there, and include my writing into the mix. I need to try and do over my daily goal each day until I get caught up. I can still do this!

Speaking of still being able to do this, I’m off to go do this writing stuff (right after a little web work).

Until Next Week!

WOO WOO!

Weekly Update: More irons in the fire.

So if you didn’t see, check out the ‘About’ tab on the blog. I’ve got two new print books available. Well, not actual books, but My Teacher is a Zombie and My Teacher is a Werewolf are now available in print. I also set up http://ofgnomesanddwarves.com to have signed editions of V&A Shipping as well as My Teacher is a Zombie and My Teacher is a Werewolf. If you get them from me, I’ll send you the ebooks for FREE! and sign them.

Hopefully soon I’ll have those buttons on jrmurdock.com soon. I ran into an issue where the way I created the buttons isn’t compatible with how wordpress wants to see them. I’ve fixed this on another site (I’ll get to that in a minute). So fear not! I know what to do.

So speaking of other sites. I’ve been crazy busy with toying around with Of Gnomes and Dwarves. I also got my publisher url, ogadpublishing.com, so it points to Of Gnomes and Dwarves. jrmurdock.com will point to the blog. I’ll be making a lot more updates over the coming months as I get more and more titles out there and available. I’ll always make sure I have copies available from my site. If you buy from me directly (a print copy) I’ll always include the ebook version. So you’ll get that right away, and I’ll mail your signed copy as soon as possible.

If you recall my rant about Scalzi last week, this is just part of the stuff that he’s “too lazy” to do himself. And I know I was pretty harsh, but writing as a business is about trying to make money. He admits that in a later post he writes in the genre and the style he does in order to maximize his profits. Which I find ironic because if he were to self publish, he’d likely make far more money. Even Dean Wesley Smith noted this. If you’re a writer and are thinking about self publishing, you must follow Dean’s blog and read his words of wisdom. They’re priceless!

Anyway, so yes. With my own web pages I’ve been frightfully busy. On top of that, I also migrated my father’s website so it’ll be easier to maintain. I did some work on my aunt’s website. I need to build a site for my mom (if only she would ever send me some pictures). Finally I took on the website for my favorite daughter’s volleyball club (it was downright painful). So I’ve got lots of web work to keep me busy.

On the volleyball site I also had to migrate some paypal buttons. It’s far easier than I thought, if you know anything about web coding. Basically the palpal button you get will be a <form> and you need to convert all the form input elements into a string and send that on the URL (performing a GET instead of a POST). So I did that, and it worked on the new wordpress site. Once it’s up and live I’ll link to it so you can all point and laugh.

Beyond that I’ve been trying to peck away at some words each day. I’m only sitting on ~10,000 words so far. No where near where I wanted to be, but we’ll get past that. This was a learning month. I got a lot accomplished and I’m proud of all I’ve done. My intention was to have 14 titles available in 18 months and I’ve already got 3. Sure two of them were unexpected, but hey, I’m good with having more books live and ready to go! I really am.

Work has been, work. It’s been stressful and draining and the hours have bled over into my time which it hasn’t lately. Needless to say I’ve been burning the candle at both ends far more than I had before. Things are slowing down a little, then I get hit with another surprise, but hey, I’d rather be busy rather than sitting on my hands hoping I had something to do.

Speaking of having something to do, I’ve got  a lot more of it to go get done.

Oh, funny side note. I’ve gotten fewer and fewer hits on my blog posts for the V&A Shipping read-along than anything else I’ve posted. I find that funny. Let’s see if this gets more hits than today’s chapter 🙂

Until Next Week!

WOO WOO!