Archive for category State of the Writer

State of the Writer: July 2012

Right now the state of the writer is just glad to be in the air conditioning. More about that tomorrow. Ahem.

2012 Goal: Query Nickajack.  We’re now halfway through 2012. The current project involves revisiting the first few chapters and making them mesh with the tone and voices of the end of the book, which we like better. Then we need to go back and change one character from a nurse to an anti-technology reactionary and slip her into a few more scenes. Remove a MacGuffin we weren’t using. Little things like that. After those two fixes, we will consider the book a first draft and ready for beta readers.

Then we’ll take a month away from it. No getting around that step, it’s a vitally important one, even if it’s going to happen later than expected.

At this point, I’m not going to kick myself if I don’t have a query letter away by December 31. That’s not to say I’m giving up on the goal, I’m still pushing forward as hard as I can, but this is the first time I’ve really revised a novel. Top-down, end-to-end, major updates and changes, rewriting entire chapters sort of revising. So I didn’t know how long to give it. Plus, the whole having a baby thing is changing things. My wife/coauthor was pregnant when we set the goal, but neither of us knew it yet. I suspect if the goal does slip, it will by at most a quarter.

We’re also starting to talk about books two and three, and what things might happen in them. Working titles: Mogollon and Columbia. That’s all you’re getting for now.

In other writing, I’ve continued to work on my novella Ghosts of Venus, I’m most of the way through a short story that will be heading off to an anthology as soon as I have power back, and I wrote another of the background flash pieces for the Nickajack universe. Actually, there was a point this month that I was working on a flash piece while taking a break from the short story that I’m writing as a break from my novella that I’m writing as a break from my novel. While I find Russian nesting dolls charming, I’ve got to stop doing things like that. It’s nice to know I can multitask, especially as my wife has her changes to work on Nickajack, but multitasking only really counts if I finish things.

Morning writing has been a major boon. It’s a project I started after the Memorial Day holiday, and during the month of June I totaled 7642 words written between 7:15am and 7:30am.  That’s over 7500 words that I might not have otherwise written. If you want to know more about the project, I introduced it here, then talked about the power of doing a little bit of work everyday here.  With 21 weekdays in June, that meant an average of 364 words a day, which compounds out to nearly 95k words if I managed to do that every weekday for a year.

State of the Author’s Beer: Had intended to brew this month for the first time in a while, but then Austin Homebrew started a state-by-state sale on their website, so I’m waiting for Virginia’s sale date to buy…which is July 26th. So hopefully brewing first weekend in August. I did finally track down the boysenberries I needed. Only had to buy an 8-pack from Amazon.

State of the Author’s Bees: Got my first sting this weekend, learned that I’m not deathly allergic. Also learned that stings on the cartilage of the ear hurt like a bastard. More on that when I talk about the storm.

This week on the blog: The DC storm and my next Ace Double review.  See you then.

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State of the Writer: June 2012 (belated)

2012 Goal: Query Nickajack.  We’re at a really good place with the book.  We’ve done a restructured outline of the first four chapters (which are now the first six chapters) that reflect some of the character changes we made later in the book, hang a Checkov gun up on the wall, and in general get a lot more done than they were doing.  That’s always going to be the danger of the hybrid writing style we were choosing, somewhere between outline and discovery.  Yes, we were outlining chapters before writing them, but I started chapter one when we were only about to chapter ten in the outline, and at times the outline got as close as only two chapters ahead.  We hit the halfway point of the year at month’s end.  Will we be querying by then?  I’m not sure.  I don’t want to sound pessimistic about the goal, but we do have a month of stepping away as part of our upcoming schedule, so we’ll only have five months left rather than six come the next State of the Writer update.

May saw me get started on a novella, expanding a story I wrote last year called The Ghosts of Venus.  So far it’s a very comfortable experience.  I always wanted to explore the world I made a little more, but never felt like it was enough of a plot idea for a novel.  I suppose this is the madness engendered by reading Ace Doubles.  My wife is even suggesting that I lengthened the partner piece, Vampires of Mars, and put them together as a DL Double.  I have promised the leader of my writers’ group that I’ll at least try to sell the novella length Ghosts traditionally before self publishing.  It’s better for everyone that way.  As of this morning the rough draft of the novella is a hair away from 10,000 words, and just transitioned from act one to act two.  This is right on schedule, since I was overall aiming for 15 roughly 2000 word chapters.

Also in May, I sold a short story to the Weird South anthology (reminds me I need to sign the damned contract, sitting on my printer, when I get home) and the Kickstarter for The Memory Eater successfully funded.  I’ve been promising an interview with the editor, but I’m waiting until the post Kickstarter work for him dies down a little.  However, he does have a paperback proof in his hands, so this is getting closer and closer to real.

State of the morning writing.    So far, this has turned into a rousing success.  Started last Tuesday, I’ve so far only missed one day and have maxed out at just under 500 words.  Total over the five days I’ve actually written: 1983 words, split between Nickajack and Ghosts.  It’s a great 400 word average that would represent around 100,000 words written if maintained every weekday of the year.  It’s amazing how a writing regimen adds up.  The challenge will eventually be making sure I have something outlined and ready for 400 additional words.  This morning I plunged into a Ghosts chapter that wasn’t yet broken into scenes, which isn’t something I wanted to do.

State of the writer’s beer.  I’m getting ready to brew again, but step one is finding one of my ingredients: Oregon brand canned boysenberries.  Their website has a handy list of which grocery stores carry them, which in the Maryland, DC, and Virginia area means only Harris Teeter.  According to their site.  According to my trips to six different Harris Teeters, including ones where I’ve seen the boysenberries before, not so much.  So I’m looking at buying eight cans off Amazon so I can have two cans.  This is all to replicate my most successful Mr. Beer recipe, though, so I suspect the rest of the berries will find homes in future batches.  It’s about the right time to brew again, as we’ll be back up to two beer drinkers in the house by the time we’re ready to pop the first bottle.

Coming up in June.  I’d be thrilled if we can get Nickajack to the point of our one months walk away and I can get Ghost of Venus to a completed rough draft.  In part because that would mean successful multitasking on my part, something I’ve never really tried as a writer.  21 weekdays this month, so I’m shooting for at least 7000 morning words, which is below my current pace, but I don’t want to push myself too hard to his word count goals in the morning.  Tomorrow: My next Ace Double review, as I kick this blog back into action.  And it’s not too late to pick my next Double to read.

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State of the Author: May 2012

Hermes and Maia

2012 Goal: Query Nickajack.  Big progress in April: the rough draft is complete!  It came in at 90,054 words, right at the lower end of my target range for the novel.  This is just the first step, but it’s a big first step, as the entire novel exists as a full length narrative.  The next step is turning it into a first draft.  Especially for something as long as a novel, I consider the rough and first drafts as two different creatures.  The rough draft is the first version of the story that takes the plot from beginning to end with no holes in the middle.  The first draft is the first draft we’re willing to let others see as a completed project.  There are three major steps between here and there:

  1. My wife and coauthor is taking three weeks to punch up Act Three with more description, as there were points in the narrative where I was concentrating more on getting to the end than stopping to smell the roses.  Or to look at, feel, taste, or listen to the roses either.  It’s largely about dividing the labor to play into our strengths.
  2. Rewrite chapter one to fit the theme and conclusion of the novel.  We want to make sure we’ve got good bookends after all.
  3. Redefine a character.  She was: a nurse.  She will be: a Luddite-style reactionary.  As she exists now, the first half of her appearances she’s the one, the second half (after we decided to change her character, and knew the new version would have a far different plot interaction) she’s the other.  So we need to make sure to unify her purposes.

Can we get this all done in May?  Maybe.  May-be.  See what I…nevermind.  Actually, probably not, but I’ll be thrilled if we get the first two steps done, and get the third done by mid-June.  Then we’ll actually consider something that’s altogether new and scary to me: alpha readers.  I’ve never had an entire novel beta read as a single unit.

This also means I’m going to be more hands-off than hands-on for the next two or three months.  Which is fair and I knew would be part of the process of coauthoring.  It makes me twitch a little, but I’m hoping to use that nervous energy to get a few other projects done.  So with that in mind…

Looking forward to May.  Yesterday was day one of the first hands-off period.  I’ve got four projects lined up, though I’m not sure what order they’ll get done in, and which will get pushed back to the month long alpha reader hands-off period.

  1. Find the next destination for Vampire of Mars and kick it out the door.  This one languished awhile before getting an entirely tacit rejection, which was harsh.  My first choice of markets is currently closed, so this will include some research and not just polishing.
  2. Finish the series of eight Nickajack side stories.  I’ve written the first three, my wife wrote the last one, so there’s four in the middle to fill in.  500-1000 words each.
  3. Create a novella-length outline for Ghosts of Venus.  I think it can take it, and I’ve got some ideas for potentially tripling the length.
  4. Create a novella-length outline for Unnamed North Carolina Time Travel War Story.  Plus…come up with a better title.  This is the story that had its origins in my accidental world building, though I may not use quite the same time period.

Novella-length stories will be an experiment for me, which is part of why I’d like to give them a try.  I’ve seen the market for them re-open lately (though largely through self publication) and I think the two stories I have in mind can support longer narratives but not novel length adventures.  I’ve also been considering them thanks to dipping my toes into one of the stronger novella markets of the 1960s, those Ace Doubles I’ve been snatching up (11 more inbound from an eBay auction, though one’s a duplicate).  If I like them, I might bundle them together and slap on this little logo that I made in a moment of insanity when things such as self-publishing something in the style of an Ace Double sounds like a good idea.

State of the Kickstarter.  I’ll be honest, we’re in the doldrums right now.  I don’t want to get pessimistic, but I’m certainly not as optimistic as I was when I suggested throwing some stretch goals into the mix.  I’m still excited about the project.  If you haven’t read the sample, give it a shot.  If you haven’t pre-ordered, please consider doing so.  We’ve got ten days left as of this writing, and still 30% of the project left to fund.  We’re exactly on pace, but that leaves us no margin for error.  I’ll put together a full postmortem, for better or worse, in two weeks when everything is done.

UPDATE: Since writing this earlier today, the Kickstarter is having a great day.  If you’re reading this and you’ve supported us, either today or in the past, I owe you a massive thanks.  We’ve still got a ways to go, but I’m a hell of a lot more optimistic at 3pm than I was at 9am.

State of the Writer’s Bees.  The first nuc arrives this weekend.  Expect a post about them next week.

Everyone have a productive month, and we’ll meet back here in 31 days to say what we’ve all done.

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State of the Writer: April 2012

2012 Goal: Query Nickajack.  I’m not going to start with word counts, because that’s not what March accomplished.  What March accomplished was the completion of the outline for Nickajack, which is a massive step forward.  The entire project took on a different tenor at that moment.  It was no longer an amorphous thing, it was now an entire narrative with a known beginning, middle, and end.  The actual writing was a little slower because we were finalizing the outline, and because the beekeeping classes I was taking on Tuesdays (more on Wednesday) provided more disruption to my momentum than I expected.

I offer this by way of explanation, not excuse.  The bulk of my writing happens Monday through Wednesday, and I’m a creature of momentum during that period.  Monday gets me back into things, Tuesday I’m going full bore, Wednesday I’m looking for a stopping point in case I can’t get back to the story until the following Monday.  Thursday evenings are devoted to my writing group, and thus are ironically writing-free.  I’m willing to do that because I feel like I get more out of the group than I would by not being in one and writing on those days.  Friday through Sunday I do what writing I can, but it tends to be more sporadic and dependent on other projects.  Right now, there are a lot of “other projects”.  Losing Tuesday meant losing one of my best writing days of the week, and really slowing down my writing on Monday and Wednesday as I was always ramping up.  I love that I did the classes, don’t get me wrong, but I’ll be glad to get back into my tried-and-true process.

So, where does that leave me?  It leaves me a chapter and a half into the rough draft of the final act.  It also leaves me having said I’m going to finish the rough draft very soon every month this year.  So it’s time for a hard deadline.  April 18th.  That sounds arbitrary, but it gives me three complete Monday through Wednesday cycles, and two weekends, one of which is a four-day weekend for me.  That’s going to require close to Nanowrimo pace on those days that I am writing, but my desire to write that last chapter should be motivation enough.  More on that later this week on Unleaded.

Anthology Updates:  First and foremost, The Memory Eater has launched a Kickstarter campaign.  I don’t want to bury that lede too much, you’ll see a much longer discussion tomorrow.  Okay, much longer blatant pimping.  It’s a 40 day campaign, but come on, if you’re interested in supporting, support early so we can rest easier knowing Kickstarter is going to work.  This last week also saw my copy of Steam Works arrive in the mail, and the news that I’m shortlisted for another anthology.  More news about that if there is, in fact, more news to give.

Looking Ahead to April.  I’m trying to pick out what my downtime project will be.  After the rough draft is finished for Nickajack, we’re building in a cooling down period where we step away before we step back.  If I do finished the rough draft by the 18th, that downtime project will start on the 20th.  Hopefully by then I have a better notion of what to do next.  Ideas include several novels that need outlining, going short story crazy, or even a screenplay outline.  Though probably not the latter.

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State of the Writer: March 2012

2012 Goal: Query Nickajack.  February started with 57k words in the manuscript and ended with 65k words.  Yeah, 8000 words over an entire month isn’t the kind of pace I’d hoped for, but that saw the end of Act 2 and then a stop-work order until we can get the entirety of Act 3 outlined.  It’s a more holistic approach to outlining than we’ve done in past acts, because the third act is rather more important and we needed to have a strong feel on our end point.  Currently we’ve got 11 chapters outlined for the act, it’ll probably top out at 13-15, then we’ll get down into outlining scenes and I can start writing again.  I’m seriously chomping at the bit to write the denouement of the book, but that’s my dessert.  I must keep in mind the musical question: How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?

Another part of the slow-down was a short story I wanted to throw together for an anthology that closed its doors yesterday.  Got the concept two weeks ago, so that meant for a short turnaround.  Been awhile since I’ve sent off a short story, and I did so with less trepidation than usual.  Not sure if this is confidence in the story or confidence in myself.  It does feel better to write an introductory bio that includes actual published real-book credits.  Anthology in question promises all responses by the first of April, so by next months State of the Writer I should have news.

In my State of the Writer for February I talked about how we were heading into the shortest, coldest month of the year.  How’d that work out for everyone?  I don’t know if our February here in the DC area was the warmest on record, but it’s certainly the warmest I can remember, even when compared to Februarys spent further south.  Which, after the last two winters, was a nice change of pace.  What wasn’t so nice was all the pollen and mold the warmer weather kept floating through the air and into my nose, leaving me more useless than usual most of the month.  That was another part of the slowdown on Nickajack in the first half of February.

On my reading goals for the year, I assigned myself to read three Steampunk novels to see what others are doing with long fiction in the genre.  I finished up Boneshaker last night, which I have mixed feelings about.  This isn’t a book review blog, or I’d go in a little more depth.  To keep it short, I thought the book had one too many things going on.  Specifically the one thing too many was the zombies.  I was interested in the plot about the destruction of Seattle, a boy trying to learn about his father, a mother trying to save her son, and a shadowy figure ruling a lawless wreck of a city.  Each of those plots would have had a little more time to shine if the constant threat of zombies wasn’t lurking around like…well, like a pack of zombies.  That said, I know they’re working on a movie, and I suspect that a lot of what I wasn’t fond of in the book will actually make it a better movie.

Next book on the pile is Spring Heeled Jack, though I might take a break from my assigned reading as I still haven’t gotten to Snuff yet.

Looking ahead to March.  Outline, outline, outline.  Write, write, write.  Thus is the life of a novelist.  I’m hoping we can get our outline done by the 9th, and if we do I might still get the first draft of Act 3 finished by the end of the month.  Probably looking at 25-35k words based on how long chapters have been to date, which will bring the whole first draft in at 90-100k words, perfectly on target.

Then we’ll step away for a few weeks.

Then we’ll edit.

Oh joy.

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State of the Writer: February 2012

2012 Goal: Query Nickajack.  We’re still in the big first step of the querying process: finishing the damn thing.  At the beginning of the month the draft sat at 35,000 words and had moved from act one to act two.  Now the draft is at 57,000 words, and we’re just past the two thirds point in that second act.  I’ve had months where I’ve written more than 22,000 words, but I don’t think I’ve had a lot of months where I liked what I was writing more.  Hopefully when next I’m visiting this goal we’ll be well into the third act with the end in sight.  I’m hoping the whole project comes in at 90-100k words, so another 22k word month will have us knocking at that door.  It also puts us well on schedule for getting some editing passes done and getting queries prepared perhaps around November or December.  Would love earlier, but patience will pay off and we won’t query this a day before it’s ready.

On my reading goals for the year, I’ve gotten through my first non-fiction selection, This Republic of Suffering.  It was about the attitudes towards death going into the Civil War, and how the conflict changed those attitudes.  It was a harsh transition from a period where people could largely die at home surrounded by loved ones, to dying by the thousands on battlefields hundreds of miles from home without any good process for identifying bodies.  My new book is Boneshaker which falls into the see-what-other-writers-are-doing category.  I’m going to withhold any review until I’ve finished.  Though I will say I love the brown printing for the book, though I do see several reviews calling the choice of browns unreadable.  That’s the danger of risks like that, I suppose.

State of the Blog.  I’m not going to do this anymore.  State of the Blog, that is, not the blog itself.  You’re not getting rid of me that easy.

State of the Writer’s Beer.  New Peculiar is now on an official hiatus.  I’m planning my next brew day to be no sooner than late July, hopefully no later than mid August.  Last night we did take our first beekeeping class, however.  This is relevant because it’s step one towards Peculiar Mead, which will be homebrewed mead made from homemade honey.  I’m drooling over some mead recipes (including on that calls for 6.5 pounds of kiwi in addition to the honey) but the first batch will be a straight up mead with no extra ingredients.  Patience will be key, I understand mead needs to mellow for a minimum of a year.  I love the federal homebrew laws.  I can’t sell any of my homebrew, but as a household of two adults I’m legally allowed to brew far more beer and wine for personal consumption than I actually have the equipment for.  And the mead counts towards my wine limit!  Ahh, homebrew.  Seriously, give it a try, it’s a lot of fun.

Looking to February.  A short, cold, brutal month.  Looking back at my January post I said February was a good target for finishing the first draft of Nickajack, I’m going to say I’m hopeful, but I won’t beat myself up if it doesn’t happen.  I do have a few days coming up where it’s just me in the house, which are often good for my production.  That…sounds far worse than I intended.  The next big collaboration challenge will come up in March: how best to edit the novel together.  So far the process has been outline together, I do the rough draft, and she polishes it into a first draft a few chapters behind me.  I’m sure we’ll figure something out.

Enjoy this slightly longer than usual shortest of months.  Be back with regular posts tomorrow, probably with my thoughts about the latest twist in the Barnes vs Amazon feud.

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State of the Writer: January 2012

2012 Goal: Query Nickajack.  Currently we’re working on the first draft of the novel.  Actually, it’s an odd amalgam sort of first-and-a-half draft, since I’m doing the rough draft and my wife is going behind with an editing pass.  The draft is at 35,000 words and has transitioned from the first act into the second right on schedule.  We’re working on a strategy we picked up online to think about the second act as three acts itself, as it often tends to be the longest act and can lack structure.  Some outlining this morning has taken us nearly to the first sub-act break, and we have a broad notion of the path from point A to point B.

On the research front, I’ve been looking for a book about life in and around the Civil War, basically a book about every aspect of the Civil War except the Civil War.  Found this at Barnes and Noble yesterday, recently republished from a 1999 original.  It’s a little dry, it’s written for research rather than narrative, but there’s a lot of good information.  I’ve already pulled some factoids out of it for use in Nickajack, nothing that will change the plot of the book, but that will add some good flavor.

Though not nearly as literal of flavor as the other book I’ve grabbed.  Oh yes, there will be some 1860s food porn in this novel.

In other writing…there isn’t much other writing right now.  I did get news from one of my upcoming anthologies between drafting and publishing this post which makes it sound just a little more promising that it might see traditional print publication and decent distribution.  I’m not going to give too many details, cause I don’t want to tell stories out of school.

State of the Blog.  It was a down month in December compared to November, but largely because I didn’t have as much traffic drawn in from the Scrivener files.  It still smoked October, and I’m quite happy with 2011 viewership in total.  To end the year I got visits from all 50 states and DC, and 64 countries.  I’m hoping for 10,000 visits this coming year, and at least 70 countries.  That’s more than double the visits from this year, but 2011 started slow.  That’s not too much higher a daily pace than I had in December, and lower than November.

Looking to January.  Finishing the first draft is probably unachievable this month, but I’m hoping to at least double the length of the manuscript, setting up for a finished draft at some point in February.  Novel writing is a slower process, less to really talk about on a month-to-month basis.  But I like that.

So that’s it, really.  Less to report this month than usual, but I don’t want to get away from the monthly reporting.  It keeps me honest, and it keeps me moving forward.  And, unlike other posts, I do know people who will give me crap if these State of the Writer updates go away.  So go forth into the new year, as the days get longer by the weather gets colder.  Tomorrow, a post based on doing some gun shopping for my main character.

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Looking Back, Looking Forward

I’m going to actually link to my resolutions post from 366 days ago, just to keep myself honest.  And I’m going to be honest with some responses to it.

Resolution 1: Finish the first draft of Capsule.  This did not happen.  Largely because I hit a point where I realized the book I was writing was not the right book to write.  It needed to be divided into two books, because I was telling two completely different and unrelated stories.  I’ll come back to both of these books one day, but probably not until 2013 in all honesty, certainly no earlier than October 2012.  But I learned a lot from walking away, such as recognizing when something isn’t working and why it isn’t working.  I also stepped away to work on a novel that has a lot of promise, so again I can only beat myself up so much.

Resolution 2: Three short stories out at all times.  This was a lofty goal for someone who went into the year with a limited number of stories ready to go out.  And then came the fantastic problem of having two taken off the market by sales!  Yay!  I tried to keep the stories that were ready for publication circulating, but probably could have done more.  Some of them, like Sleep, are just hard to find markets for.  I do have two out with long-response publications right now (Vampires of Mars and Face of the Serpent).

Resolution 3: Write from-scratch stories for six anthologies.  I did five.  One sold (Home Again), one wasn’t sent due to quality problems (Back Half), two were rejected (Vampire of Mars and Beyond Light), one is still out for consideration (Face of the Serpent).

Resolution 4: Fortnightcaps.  This was a fun project for a few months, and I had intended to keep it going through the year.  What stopped me?  Discovering other flash fiction contests, and realizing that I was burning story rights without anything to show in return in terms of readership.  So anyone who was paying attention might have noticed they stopped in September, but since I never had a single person ask me “hey, what happened to those Fortnightcaps,” I suspect no one was really paying attention.  This showed in the readership dips on those days.  I’m not blogging solely for readership numbers, but it is nice to not send stories out into the void where no one is reading them when I could make something more out of them.

So it was a mixed bag, but even in my failures I feel like I learned a lot about writing in general, and specifically how I write, in this past year.  I wouldn’t trade a single bit of the experience.

Last night at CVS we sat down and talked about resolutions going forward.  I wrote down five at Day‘s insistence, but it was secretly just three.  We followed the SMART acronym used by most corporations in determining yearly objectives: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.  For example, writing 10 novels is specific and measurable, but isn’t attainable or realistic.  So from that perspective, my resolutions break down to the following categories:

Completion.  Complete Nickajack to a condition where it can be queried, then query it.  There are a lot of steps involved in this (such as, ya know, finishing it), and “Query Nickajack” really is my overarching resolution for 2012.  Each month’s State of the Writer for 2012 will start with those words and my progress towards that goal so I don’t lose sight of it.

Research.  I’ve made a specific goal of reading three non-fiction books about pre-to-post Civil War era, and two fiction books with as similar a setting as possible.  Which is tough.  Southeastern US Steampunk is not a common market segment.  One of the fiction books will likely be How Few Remain by Harry Turtledove.  It’s not Steampunk, but it is Alternate History, and I’ve always preferred Steampunk that falls under Alternate History more than Fantasy.  Recommendations are welcome!

Man Up.  I need to get over my crippling con introversion, the one that border lines on social anxiety.  To make this goal measurable, I’ve taken it upon myself to find 6 people to provide prompts for the 2012 Flashathon.  With the event being expanded to 18 hours, that means I’m on the hook for a third of them.  This is, by far, the hardest of the resolutions I’ve set.  Which says a lot about me that I consider talking to six people, just six, at a convention as more of a challenge than finishing a fucking novel.

And with that, this blog will likely be dark until the New Year.  Everyone enjoy the festivities.  I’d caution to not do anything I wouldn’t, but that would make for a boring weekend, so go out there and do at least one thing I wouldn’t but is still legal.  It’ll be more fun that way.

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State of the Writer: December 2011

Is it really December?  There have been some really long days and weeks this year, but the months have been just flying past.  I’m writing just one week removed from Thanksgiving, and Christmas is rapidly approaching.  Which makes me think I really should do some shopping.  But that’s not what we’re here to talk about.  We’re here to talk about what’s happened with my writing in November, what I hope will happen in December, and a few other bits and pieces.

November saw my wife and I embark on a rather grand journey as we attempt to collaborate on a novel.  It’s my first foray into novel-length story telling in two years, and it really is nice to stretch the legs a little and get back into long form narratives.  But not too leg stretchy.  I think my flirtation with short fiction the last few years has been beneficial, and left me understanding better how to structure stories and how to look at scenes and chapters as short stories of their own that tie together into a long narrative.  Right now we have an outline that goes through six chapters and a first draft that goes through two.  We’ve also got a real map of our city from only 5 years after the novel takes place, a fake map of the state and surrounding bits of the US, 20 years of real and alternate historical timeline officially written, and another few centuries of unofficial timeline sitting in our heads.

Plus we’re still married and haven’t even had any major argument!

December is going to see us continue down the path.  I have some pie in the sky hopes of finishing an outline before the end of the month and maybe five more chapters drafted.  I’m trying not to get too far in the draft because I don’t want to catch up with the outline.

On the anthology front, Steam Works should hopefully be available before the end of the year, per information from the editor.  Memory Eater is still a little farther out, but that’s due to the editor still exploring publisher authors.  However, a post made while I’ve been writing this has some decently good news about everything but the timeline.  It should be well worth the wait, however, even if the only story I have direct knowledge about is my own.

But mine is pretty awesome, and will probably be worth the cover price alone, especially if you’re my parents.

State of the Writer’s Beer.  Stagnant.  Not the beer, my brewing.  I’ll probably do a batch in December, though, as soon as I have 24 empties.  So if I’ve given you a bottle, the quicker you drink it and return the empty, the sooner there’ll be another batch.

State of the Writer’s Blog.  See that to the right?  That was the hit I got from Dover, Delaware this month.  That’s significant, because it was the 50th state to visit the blog, which means I’ve now collected them all, along with DC and Puerto Rico.  That really was my big goal this year with readership, and I accomplished it with about seven weeks to spare.  I actually came close to collecting all 50 states just in the month of November, due to my Scrivener files driving a lot of visitors this month.  I’m going to keep those coming because I’m addicted both to the process of making the files (as I talked about earlier) and, maybe a little, to the readership numbers they bring.  November blew any other month out of the water, and was only a disappointment because it ended with 999 hits.

So welcome any and all new readers of this blog.

Onward into December, and into winter.  The days will get shorter for three more weeks, then the solstice will hit and we’ll head back into the sun again.  It can be a tough month to write, but I’m in this for the long haul.  I’m glad to have y’all along for the ride.

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Thankful Writer is Thankful

Unless I accidentally hit “publish” instead of “save draft,” today is the day before Thanksgiving.  Though it may seem trite, I’d like to use the occasion to talk about what I feel thankful for as a writer.  Certainly this is not a comprehensive list of everything I’m thankful for, just a curated list of what has made my life as a writer better.

Scrivener.  I’ve talked about it a lot lately, I realize, but that’s because it’s turned out to be the first actual writing tool I’ve used.  Oh, I’ve tried other products that called themselves writing tools, but in the end they were little more than toys to be played with then put away as I went back to Word.  This is the first product that has actually changed my process as a writer for what I feel is the better, and for that I am thankful.  Of course, there’s that little toy called the “name generator” bundled in, but that’s just for when I’m seriously writer’s blocking.

Vacuumed Cats.  I’ve heard so many horror stories about bad writers group, especially from my fellow members of the Cat Vacuuming Society of Northern Virginia.  I joined the group years ago while doing Nanowrimo and have constantly welcomed their presences as cheerleaders, beta readers, ass kickers, and their attempts to push me into a more extroverted state at conventions.  The last hasn’t succeeded yet, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the effort.

Flash Fiction Contests.  I’ve stepped away from them the last two weeks while trying to get my brain into Nickajack mode, but they’ve kept me creatively energized lately, given me story concepts, and even inspired my own Flashathon insanity.  I worry a critical mass has been reached with regards to new ones, but there’s at least one contest now every week day, so they’re always there and waiting for when I want a quick bit of writing inspiration.

Collaboration.  Doesn’t hurt that my wife is my cohort in crime on this new novel, but collaboration is bringing more out of this story than I could have put into it alone.  I’m not going to say that every novel should be a collaboration, but at some level most novels are, just so long as the writer is doing any bouncing of ideas.  This is just a more detailed idea-and-draft bouncing that is working well as we can both focus on our strengths, which are complimentary.

Readers.  Not just my readers, but all readers everywhere.  People who would want to read my stories.  People who wouldn’t.  The mere existence of readers in the world requires writers, creates markets, drives demand, and gives me hope going forward in all my projects.

This is just a subset of those things that make me love my life.  Just those things that pertain to writing.  The full list is so much longer.  So let’s take a few days off, let’s enjoy some friends, some family, some turkey, and meet back here on Monday.

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