Just a bit of a minor update. If you follow my Facebook page, you probably know this already, but the manuscript for A Man With A Gun has already felt the pitiless lash of my wonderful editor, Pauline Nolet.
She’s already made one pass on it, reminding me in no uncertain terms that I really, really need to have an editor and that I simply have no idea how to properly use commas. I’ve made my pass in response, and the MS is back with her again for another round of strict corrective action.
I suspect we’ll see a finished draft soon!
In related news, my original cover artist has found life to be a bit busy of late. However, another artist has stepped up to the plate and shown great enthusiasm for the project. I’m looking forward to seeing what he comes up with. The manuscript is still being tinkered with, but it’s mostly complete, if in need of final polish, so it’s about time we put some clothes on this baby!
So… 2016. That was something, wasn’t it? Some ups, some downs. But, all in all, it was certainly 366 days of, well, interesting events. But, enough about that. This post is about what I did in 2016 (or didn’t do) and what my plans are for the coming year.
To wrap up the past year, what have I got to look back on? Sadly, not a lot. Since I set out to “seriously pursue” this writing thing about five years ago, 2016 has got to be one of the absolute least productive years I’ve had. Just by sheer word count, it was utter shit. I wrote almost nothing new this year and nothing was finished. Not gonna make excuses (much). There was one major highlight out of 2016, and for me, it was a pretty big one. My first novel, Frostwalker, was released as an audiobook, narrated by Jack Wallen. It’s been somewhat successful, and my future novels will almost certainly be going to audio when they are released. Seriously, if you’re an indie author, do not overlook audiobooks!
I’ve talked about it before, but the current day job I have is simply exhausting, mentally and physically. That said, I’ve been trying to make progress. That lack of time and energy isn’t the only thing holding me back – I’ll get back to that in a moment.
First, there’s something that needs to be said. The past year and a half of this “new” job has brought about changes in my life that are still being figured out. It’s not just the exhaustion and demands the job puts on my time. For most of my adult life, we’ve been poor. Varying from just “first world poor” to some close calls that have nearly put us on the streets. Without the support system of extended family, we would never have made it. Now, at last, we’ve reached a place that we’ve never been at before – we’re more or less financially secure and self-supporting. It’s hard to describe what it’s like, and 18 months later, we’re still discovering ways that this has changed our lives. This is a good thing, but man does it ever cost a lot in time and energy. It’s not easy to put into words, but if you’ve ever been poor and finally made it (most of the way) out of that, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. So, this past year has been amazing in a lot of ways, but it’s been a big adjustment.
So, back on topic, what was it that made the past year such a disappointment with regards to my writing? I think, mainly, I’ve gotten stuck in a first draft hole. Those who have been following me the past couple of years have heard about my second novel, currently under the title A Man With A Gun. The first draft of AMWAG was finished on February 8th of 2015 – damned near 2 years ago. That date was also the end of my last solid stretch of daily writing. Since that time, I’ve had a few weeks here and there where I put in some words on a couple of small projects that may or may not become finished works. But, I keep getting stalled and losing motivation.
What happened? Well, once that draft was finished, I hit the brakes and decided to breathe for a bit. Meanwhile, I set about finding beta readers for AMWAG. It’s been hard to do. I’ve had a lot of difficulty finding people to read the manuscript, mainly because my usual readers are unavailable, or just too busy. Some have read it, both from my usual suspects, and a few new folks. I’ve gotten some feedback, and a lot of it is looking really good. Meanwhile, I had those side projects that I kept trying to work on, but they kept fizzling and stalling for me.
The issue arises due to a personal quirk I have. To put it simply, I don’t like having too much going on at one time. This has always been the way of things with my creative outlets. I don’t like working on something when another project is calling for my attention. Part of becoming a better author is getting to know how to access your creativity and how you work. Discovering what is the process that works for you. For me, while I know it’s maybe not the best or most efficient process, it really is difficult to move forward on one project while another is unfinished.
Right now, it feels like A Man With A Gun is what should be the focus (and it should be, I think). However, due to the scattered way the beta reading has been going, one or two readers here and there, always someone new going through it, I keep waiting on all the feedback.
Looking back, I should have set a deadline for when to end the beta phase. It’s been too easy for me to set aside other projects and tell myself, well, right now AMWAG is what I’m working on, so this just can’t have my focus. It became a crutch. So, to end that, I’m going to set that deadline here and now. The first round of revisions on A Man With A Gun is going to start February 1st of this year. So, if by chance you are currently one of the folks reading the manuscript for me, having your feedback to me before then would be nice. If you’re interested in reading the first draft, feel free to drop me a line, but be quick about it!
Another goal, this one a little less solidly defined: I want to have A Man With A Gun released before the end of the year. Should be easy to hit that one… Then again, I had hoped to have it out last year.
But, that’s not all that’s going on in 2017. There’s another (somewhat major) endeavor I’m hoping to undertake. As most of my followers know, I’m also a gamer. While my gaming has taken a serious hit, and obviously, I have to balance my very limited free time with the writing, I do plan to use it as another creative outlet.
To that end, I (and my wife) plan to begin streaming video game sessions on a regular basis. This will be another way for me to connect with you folks out there. If you’re the sort who likes to game, and especially if you enjoy livestreams, please consider stopping by. Most of my streaming will probably be late night, since I am (and always have been) the second shift sort. If the streaming works out, I hope to bring it together with my writing platform as a part of how I interface with those of you out in the wider world.
So, that’s that. Here’s hoping that 2017 will be a productive year! Good luck out there!
I’m happy to announce, after much struggle and a great deal of effort on the part of the fantastic Jack Wallen, the Frostwalker audiobook is now finished and available for sale!
It’s been a long, sometimes difficult process. While Jack worked quickly and without complaint, he also waited patiently for me to find the time to go over the various iterations of the audio files. As I’ve discussed recently, my current situation has left precious little time and energy for creative pursuits, but Jack was very understanding whenever I was slow on my end. Sometimes, I was very slow indeed.
I also learned a great deal about how one goes about creating an audiobook, and had some great chats with Jack along the way.
So, now what? Now you go get it! But, more than that, I would like to ask my friends and followers, readers and fans (yes, Mom, this means you) to help get the word out. Frostwalker isn’t a new release, but it’s currently my only full-length novel (more on that in a moment). With such a limited catalog available, I need all the help I can get letting people know about my work. If you want to help an indie author out, the best thing you can do is tell your friends about them! Please do so, and thanks in advance!
What else is going on? There’s good news there, as well. First and foremost, I’m happy to say that I’ve finally managed to return to writing – a little. The day job is, frankly, a serious drain on my energy, even when it’s just the normal eight hours. However, the past week has seen slight progress on a couple of stories I started work on last summer.
Beyond that, I’m also still in the early stages of revision on my second novel, A Man With A Gun. There are more (new) beta readers looking at the manuscript. Soon, I hope to begin edits. Yeah, I know, you’ve heard that one before, but seriously, the book will be coming out eventually! Heck, if you really want to give it a read, you could always volunteer to be a beta reader and help make it the best book it can be.
It’s been difficult, but I do hope that this recent return to writing will be a long term development. I’ve missed sitting here at my writing desk, putting on my writer hat, and… well, you know! If you want to be a writer, you gotta write!
I hope to begin doing more frequent updates in the future. For now, thanks for stopping by!
So, it seems that all of the time left in 2015 has leaked out and now we’ve got a whole other year ahead of us. That went fast!
To kick off the new year, how about we start with a major announcement? After two and a half years since initial publication, the Frostwalker audiobook is almost here!
The audiobook will be narrated by the inimitable Jack Wallen. Many of you will know him, either through his own fiction, the numerous audiobooks he’s narrated, or possibly even from his stage career. Principle production is complete and now we’re into the nitty-gritty of polishing up the final product.
While the final release date for the audiobook is still undecided, it shouldn’t be too far off. For now, here’s a look at the audiobook version of the Frostwalker cover art:
So, that’s pretty cool! But what else is going on?
Well, the short answer is: Not much. As I discussed previously, my employment situation changed and the new job has utterly devastated my productivity. The good news on that front is, I’m beginning to adjust a bit, and I do think I’ll be able to eventually start devoting more time to this whole author thing again soon. It likely won’t be much, but with luck, it will be enough to make progress on my various projects. Slow and steady wins the race, right?
Unfortunately, no further progress has been made on any projects since the last time I posted. My final word count for 2015 came to 95,795. If you recall, my goal set at the beginning of the year had been to average 500 words per day. In the end, I only managed a smidge over 262 per day, on average. The first half of the year had seen daily averages well above target, but after faltering during the middle of the year, then getting this new day job, that was doomed.
I’m not sure how feasible setting a goal like that is for this year. With the situation as it stands, I’ve held off on setting a concrete word count goal. But, there are things I plan to get done!
One particular item, A Man With A Gun still needs to be finished up and prepared for publication. Technically, the manuscript is still in the first draft stage, and there are still copies out with beta-readers. The focus for now will be on getting A Man With A Gun through the editing process, and ready for release.
A whole new year is set out before us. A lot can happen in a year, as the previous one has shown. Here’s hoping for a productive and successful 2016!
Those who follow me might have noticed that I’ve not been nearly as active on Facebook or anywhere else for the past month or so. In fact, while I thought I might be doing updates like this every month, the last “monthly update” was back in May. I’ve posted since then, but not a proper update on what’s going on with my writing. Still, I have at least posted various bits of interest over the past two months, so that’s not so bad, I guess.
So, what’s my current status? Dead in the water – for now.
At the beginning of this month (hey, it’s still August for several hours yet) I started a new job. Gone is the part time janitor gig that gave me plenty of free time to devote to my writing. This is a full time manufacturing job. But, it’s more than that. This is a very physically demanding job, and I’ve never been the most robust of individuals. More, the products we make are in high demand right now, and the company is understaffed – in part because a lot of people work a few hours and decide to throw in the towel. It’s just that miserable. So, due to this high demand and lack of personnel, overtime isn’t just super available – it’s frequently mandatory. In the past four weeks, I’ve had one Saturday off, and several long shifts (10 and 12 hours). I believe only once was that voluntary.
But, there is also good news – otherwise, why would I put myself through it? The big thing is that this new job will finally allow me to meet some financial goals I’ve had for a very long time. It was through necessity that I took on the full time job (the mail-order business isn’t doing what it used to, and the janitor gig was insufficient given some new expenses that have come up). But, this new job will allow me to take on the new expenses and more. So, that’s good stuff. The benefits are okay as well.
But, what about the writing?
So, here’s where things stand on that. My yearly goal of averaging 500 words per day is likely sunk. I was beginning to lag behind last month and this new work schedule has almost certainly put me too far down to catch up. Frankly, the new job has been brutal. The first few weeks, all I could do was go to work, eat a little, and sleep. Just catching up on Facebook was difficult.
However, my body is beginning to adjust. Also, I can feel the creative juices starting to flow again. I hope that’s what those juices are, anyway…
The point is this: Two weeks ago, I despaired to think I might never have the spare time and energy to ever seriously write again. But, in recent days, I’m finally seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel. My free time is still going to be severely limited, and putting in three or five hours at the writing desk in a night isn’t likely to happen any time soon. However, I can see now that my energy reserves are recovering and getting in a few words after work may be a possibility. Hooray for hope!
Those who’ve been following along will recall that I finished two projects early this year. One was A Man With A Gun and the other was an undisclosed novella to be released under a pseudonym. Both of those are still in the first draft stage – more or less.
You may also recall that since that time I’ve started on two new projects, as well as considered tinkering with the longer version of Out After Dark. Those projects are on hold for now. The first sort of fizzled but may be resumed later. The second also fizzled, but remains at the forefront of my mind. As for the long version of Out After Dark… Who knows? It does keep coming back to me, though.
Right now, my priority projects are the two finished drafts. I plan to get those revised, edited, and ready for release before the end of the year. Yes, A Man With A Gun should be out this year if things go as I plan. Cover art for both of those projects is either in the works or almost finalized. I am still waiting to hear from many of my beta readers for A Man With A Gun, but will likely move forward with revisions soon regardless. So far I’ve had a lot of excellent feedback from those who have finished their read-through and it looks like this is going to be a popular read!
Finally, there is some pretty big news coming soon, so stay tuned. I don’t know if things are at a stage where I can talk about it, but I hope to make an official announcement in the coming weeks. I hope that was vague enough for you…
Anyway, that’s where things stand right now. Stick around, and let’s see how this all shakes out!
OH! Just in case you missed it: I was proud to be the first sponsor for Armand Rosamilia and Mark Tufo‘s new podcast, Arm N Toof’s Dead Time Podcast. My spot ran on episode three. Good stuff! A big thanks to Armand for the very kind words!
As I mentioned in my update a few days ago, I’m currently working on a new project that is still a little vague, but it’s something post-apocalyptic. I also chattered on quite a bit about my goal of averaging 500 words per day this year and how that was coming along. I know I’ve mentioned the Excel spreadsheet that I use to track my daily word counts, and that it has a chart as well. I thought you folks might like to see how that chart looks so far this year. So, here it is, including annotations I added to explain what we’re seeing.
That is up to date as of finishing up this morning’s writing session. You can click for a larger version. As for the hard numbers, they work out like this:
Total goal for year: 182,500 (500/day * 365 days)
Total so far: 87,315 (95,185 remaining)
Number of writing days left (assuming 500 words per day): 190
Number of actual days left in the year: 217
The past few days have been productive, and it feels good. I think part of it is the excitement of a new project. I also think it has helped having a set start time to each writing session. Due to my nocturnal schedule, and being weird about what day gets credit for my word count if the writing session straddles the midnight hour, I’ve just been waiting until midnight to start actually writing. Having that set time to “clock in” as it were, solidifies the concept that “it’s writing time – now go write“. Also, I get to psych myself up in the time between getting home from the day job and when I start writing.
Another nice thing is that there’s a little less pressure. When the last project hit the wall back in April it was very discouraging. But, I’ve had time to mull it over and I’m not so worried about that now. I know that chances are good that I’ll go back to it and finish it eventually – it’s just not ready yet. However, if it doesn’t ever amount to anything, and even if this new project dies as well, it’s okay. It’s all practice. It’s all experience. I think I do pretty well as a wordsmith, but we’re always working to get better.
The reason I can be so cavalier about the investment of tens of thousands of words that may never see the light of day is because I know that I can produce projects that do make it through. I’ve talked before about how finishing A Man With A Gun was great, not just because it was a new novel finished but because I had proven to myself that the first novel wasn’t a fluke. Once can be luck, but twice is nice. Many authors only have one book in them. Nothing wrong with that, but I want more. Now I know that I have more in me. Lots more.
So far, so good…
So, how about another monthly update?
As I’ve mentioned lots of times, one of my biggest hurdles is just staying motivated and keeping my productivity up. I’ve also mentioned that my goal for this year has been to average 500 words per day. That’s not a lot, really, but it adds up in the end. For someone not writing as a full-time job, I think it’s a passable goal.
I just crunched some numbers… Taking how many days have already passed this year (145), and considering my goal of averaging 500 words per day this year, my current total word count for the year (79,610) puts me only about two weeks ahead of schedule.
Writing a novel really sounds so reasonable when you look at the raw numbers. If you crank out 2,000 words per day (which I do on good days, but usually I’m closer to 1,300 or so) then you hit 80,000 words in only 40 days. 80,000 words is a reasonable length for a novel and, in fact, both of the novels I’ve written so far have been in that neighborhood. So, if you’re motivated enough, you can write the first draft of a novel in the time it takes to wipe out all life on earth in a biblical flood. Easy peasy.
If I run the numbers with my usual output of 1,300 words per day, it’s still only about 62 days to hit the 80k mark. Two months. Prison sentences for major crimes have run less.
But, let me tell ya, doing that every day for two months takes a lot out of you – especially if you’ve got other things on your plate as well, such as a day job, a small business to run, family, etc.
Still, that’s what you do. If you want to be a writer, you have to, well, WRITE. Ain’t that a kick in the head?
For those keeping score at home, my goal of 500/day average word count means 182,500 by the end of the year. I have 102,890 remaining to hit that mark and between now and December 31st to do it. IF I only write 500 words in a day, I have 206 days of writing ahead of me and 220 days left in this year. Most days that I write, I do well over 500. But it’s those damned zero-days that get ya.
So, how do I get there? Well, that brings me to my next point: I’ve started yet another new project. Last month I mentioned that I’d started something new, and that I got 12,000 words into it before I hit the wall. That project is still “live”, but until my muse is ready to feed out a little more of that one, I’ve got something else to work on. I’m only about 3,000 words into this new one, and no idea if it will be a novel or what, but I’ve only had two sessions to beat on it so far.
It’s a good idea to have multiple projects, and for just that reason. If the well dries up on one, you switch off for a while. I don’t care where my 500 words per day come from, so long as I’m getting 500 words of new fiction written every day.
There is always the possibility that these projects will fizzle entirely and never come to see the light of day. That sort of thing happens. I’ve got a 40,000 word manuscript from some years ago that will likely never be finished. But, it’s all part of the process. It’s all writing experience, it’s all work spent sharpening the tools of my trade, and who knows, maybe that idea will come around again?
Anyway, this new project is a post-apocalyptic thing that’s been bouncing around my head for a few months. Not zombies – not yet anyway – but definitely post-apocalyptic. We’ll see where it goes.
Lastly, I was very happy to get a new blurb for Frostwalker from none other than Armand Rosamilia. I added his blurb to the Frostwalker page here at the site, but for your enjoyment, I’ll copy and paste it here.
“Ancient curses, zombies, a bleak wintry setting you can feel in your bones, and a fast-paced story that keeps you guessing. This is a debut novel? I’m impressed.” – Armand Rosamilia, author of the Dying Days zombie series
Armand knows survival horror, so such comments from him mean a lot to me!
That’s mostly it for now. Beta reading continues on A Man With A Gun, and interested parties still have time to give it a go if you’re so inclined. Drop me a line if you’d like to beta read that, or if you’re interested in joining the beta reading Facebook group I created.
Until next time…
I mentioned in my post last month that I might try making this update idea a monthly thing, so here’s what’s up from me lately.
To begin with, I finally got back to writing! After finishing the first draft of A Man With A Gun back on February 8th, I took a break to recharge and maybe do some of the non-writing things I needed to do. That was supposed to be two or four weeks, but sickness, laziness, and just being busy with the things I’d let slide while focused on writing pushed that back. Still, on April 7th, I started on a new project! In fact, that day I put in 4,357 words on that new project, which is my single highest word count day so far this year.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to last. I’m currently 12,000 words into the new project and stuck. There’s something not right with the new story. It seems like something is missing. The writing seems okay, and I think I like the characters, but it feels like it’s meandering. That said, it was supposed to be a short story anyway, and it’s already 12,000 words. A Man With A Gun was supposed to be a short story as well, and it ended up being an 87,000 word novel.
So, what am I going to do about it? Well, to begin with, I’m going to stop and switch to some other things. I believe the new project needs to stew a little longer before I go back to it. The muse hasn’t finished chewing on that one yet. The “other things” I’m switching to are a little varied…
Those who follow me might recall that I mentioned another project I had finished earlier this year when talking with Armand Rosamilia on his podcast recently. As I said on the podcast, that was a novella (35,000 words) that won’t be released under my own name. Part of the reason for that is because it wasn’t written by me alone – it’s actually a story that was developed together with my wife. She and I hashed out the story (a large part of it being her creation) and then I wrote the actual manuscript from that outline/plot.
That story needs revision and editing. But, we are also working on turning it into a possible series. We’ve been brainstorming on that a bit. As a side note, I recently mentioned on Facebook that I had purchased the full version of Scrivener and that it is primarily aimed at writers who work from an outline. For me, that’s not how I normally work. But, for this project I’m doing with the wife, it’s been quite good since everything is plotted from the start. Not that anything I write stays on the plot for very long…
While I may talk about these side projects more in the future, for the most part it won’t be something tied to my own name in any direct way. So, no, I won’t tell you what it is. 😉
Aside from that, I’m also looking at some technical issues. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I built a computer last spring. It was an epic gaming rig and it was awesome. However, the motherboard unexpectedly died recently. Unfortunately, that computer is where I was storing my older writing files. The hard drive should be fine, but if the computer won’t run, there’s no way to access that drive, obviously. I plan to repair that computer soon, but haven’t had time to tear it down. In the interim, I may swap that drive to a working machine so I can get to my older files.
Why is this at all relevant to my current writing projects? Because among those files are the older projects I haven’t worked on in a long time. Among those projects is a little short story named Out After Dark. I’ve mentioned before that many people have asked for a longer, full-length story from that. What I released was a 2,100 word short – little more than a single scene. What’s written (and languishing on that hard drive) is , if I recall correctly, a 14,000 word manuscript that may someday become much more. I figure there’s at least a novella there, if not a full-length novel.
I’m not making promises on that. It may be that I’ll never release a longer version of that story. But, for now, I need a project to work on while the current one cooks a little longer. The project with the wife isn’t ready to move forward yet, so I may or may not work on Out After Dark – if I can get to my files!
Lastly, A Man With A Gun is still in the beta-reading stage. I’ve been thinking for a while that it would be nice to have a way to organize my beta-readers and bring things together in an orderly fashion. To that end, I have created a Facebook group! It’s called Brandon’s Beta-Reader Barn, because I’m bad at naming things and I like alliteration. If you’re interested, pop by and request to join. No promises that I’ll accept everyone, but that’s how you get in if you want in.
The group will be for people interested in beta-reading my work. Possibly, in the future, some of my author friends might want to seek beta-readers from the group as well. It’s entirely possible that the whole thing will just not work as intended – but, I won’t know until I try. Still, I think it will be faster and easier than doing everything by email, and this way the betas can all talk to each other about how silly my stories are.
That’s pretty much everything going on with me lately. Here’s hoping I actually get some stuff done soon!
OH! One last thing: I recently read an awesome book! It’s called The Martian, by Andy Weir and it was just amazing. You really gotta check this one out if you like science stuff, survival stories, or snarky, upbeat protagonists. Click the cover image to snag a copy over at Amazon! Note: There’s more than one version of the cover art. Don’t let that throw you off. I just like this version better.
I’m of an age where paperback books were generally pretty affordable. In truth, many still are, but prices have indeed gone up. For me, the “normal” price of a paperback book was in the area of six to eight dollars. When I think of the cost of an “average” paperback, my brain just spits out $7.99.
However, sadly, those days have slipped into the past. These days, a more normal price for a paperback (if there is such a thing as a normal price) is around $9.99. At least, that seems true for many of the books I buy, aside from the larger volumes, such as epic fantasies.
When I first released Frostwalker, I wanted to keep the paperback edition pricing low. In part, this was due to nostalgia over those older prices. There’s a part of me that still feels like paying more than $7.99 for a book of that size is maybe a bit much. Another factor was simply the fact that I am an unknown author to most of my potential readers. Having a lower price, combined with the good reviews the book has been getting, might be just the incentive for a reader to take a chance on my work.
But, in order to reach a broader audience, I need to be able to break into more distribution channels. These channels have a higher overhead cost, which means that the author’s portion of the sales is significantly smaller. In order to even be eligible for those channels the price has to be increased above a certain threshold just to cover the cost of distribution.
So, beginning February 1st, I will be increasing the price of the paperback edition of Frostwalker to $9.99. The ebook editions (Kindle and others) will remain at $2.99. The upside is that, with time, the book will be available for bookstores to purchase, as well as libraries.
If you intend to pick up a paperback copy of Frostwalker, but haven’t done so yet, now would be a good time to grab yours!