Update – April 2015 – New Project, Stalled, Beta Reader Group

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.

TheMartianCover

Seriously, this book is EPIC!

 

 

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Update – March 2015 – Podcast Appearance and Call For Beta Readers

Not much new to report, but a couple of things worth talking about.

First, you may have noticed that I’ve titled this one as the update for March. I don’t know if that’s going to be “a thing” or not, but I do want to update the blog more regularly, if only to keep you all in the loop on what I’m up to. So, maybe I’ll make this a monthly thing?

The first bit of news to report is my recent appearance on Armand Rosamilia’s Arm Cast Dead Sexy Horror Podcast. As usual, those of you who follow my Facebook page have probably already heard about this, but it was a fun little interview. One reason it was so enjoyable is because Armand doesn’t do interviews in the traditional sense. Instead, it’s just two authors sitting and talking about whatever for an hour or so. We talked about writing (of course), as well as music, Dungeons & Dragons, his upcoming wedding, and all sorts of stuff. Go check it out!

Arm Cast Podcast Logo

This is a fun show!

Another thing worth mentioning: As you know, A Man With A Gun is finished. While I do have some beta readers currently going through the first draft, I would like to have more folks giving it a look and giving me their thoughts. If YOU would like to be a beta reader, hop over to my Contact page and drop me a line. Let me know what format you would need it in (PDF, Doc, Docx, etc.). I can’t promise that I’ll accept everyone as a beta reader, but let me know why you’d like to beta read A Man With A Gun and maybe you’ll be in the list!

In case you’re wondering, A Man With A Gun is a near future sci-fi story with some dystopian elements, along with some paranormal/horror and western bits. Yeah, it’s a genre-bender. The manuscript is currently around 87,000 words (a little longer than Frostwalker was) and it’s a raw first draft – not even really proofread.

My first drafts do tend to be pretty clean, but I’m sure there are plenty of typos. However, beta readers are free to provide as much or as little feedback as they’d like. If you want to hunt down typos, that’s fine. If you want to ignore them and focus on story issues, that’s cool, too. If you want to just give me a few sentences telling me what you liked and didn’t like, that’ll do pig. It’s entirely up to you how much feedback, and what type, you’d like to give.

Lastly, if you do beta read the manuscript and don’t finish it, I’d like to know where you lost interest. That’s important info!

That’s got most of the high points covered. In other news, as I mentioned in my last post, I planned to take two or four weeks off after finishing A Man With A Gun. Unfortunately, coming down with the flu pretty much meant that my whole “break” was spent lying in bed wishing I could die.

In addition to that, a computer I built a year ago suffered a motherboard failure, rendering it inoperable. This wouldn’t matter too much, but that computer contains the hard drive where most of my writing files are stored. No data has been lost, of course, but I can’t access the things I need to work on certain projects. This has limited my options for when I do go back to writing, but I don’t think it will be a major issue. A story idea is brewing already, and it’s just about ready to break forth, spewing onto the keyboard!

Other issues not related to writing have been popping up. Some of it due to the illness and some due to all the time I put into writing in the first part of the year. Things I set aside in January and February are having to be dealt with now.

It will be good to get back to writing, but I have to admit to a strange uneasiness as well. Sort of an indistinct anxiety hovering around the idea of diving back into the writing. It’ll work itself out eventually.

For now, that’s about got it. I look forward to hearing from you, so feel free to drop me a line – not just if you’re interested in beta reading, but if you’d just like to chat. The best part of this writing thing is hearing from readers!

An Update – A Man With A Gun Finished And More

Hi folks! This is just a quick post to get you up to date on what I’ve been up to lately.

First and foremost, if you follow me over at Facebook, you probably have heard that A Man With A Gun is finished! The last words of the first draft were done during Sunday, February 8th’s writing session, although it was after midnight and technically Monday, the 9th by the time I finished. Begun as a short story back on July 12th of 2012 according to the title page in my manuscript, the story took on a life of its own. In the end, the short story became a novel of 87,500 words. By comparison, Frostwalker was around 81,000 when it was a first draft and the finished release version of Frostwalker is about 80,000 words after the cuts and additions made during revision and editing.

A Man With A Gun is a good illustration of the difficulties I had staying on task over the past couple of years. There are some good reasons for that and some not good ones, as I discussed in my New Years post last month. Despite taking two and a half years, according to my records there were only about 50 actual writing days involved in the creation of that book. Some of those days not spent on A Man With A Gun were spent on other projects. For example, The Card was begun in March of 2012 and, after editing and going through six revisions, it was released in January of the following year. But, far too many days were spent not writing at all. I won’t go over all of that again, as it’s covered pretty well in my post from earlier this year.

Speaking of that earlier post, how have I been doing with regards to my productivity? Well, up until finishing work on A Man With A Gun, I had gone every day this year without taking a single zero word count day. January 1st I only had 359 words and every day since then has been at least 1,000 word days. There have been several 2,000 word days, and the highest was 3,374 on February 5th. My goal is still to average 500 words per day, and up until I began my break on the 8th of this month my average was 1,656 per day. Total word count for the year is 64,589, passing the pitiful 48,000 words of last year on January 30th. Yes, I wrote more in the first month of this year than in all of 2014.

So what’s next? Facing burnout, I decided that when I finished A Man With A Gun, I would be taking two weeks off (possibly four). I don’t plan to do any writing during that time period. Instead, I plan to do other things that a writer needs to do. I still haven’t really finished the media kit for Frostwalker, so I need to do that. I also need to line up beta readers for A Man With A Gun. I’d like to get my mailing list sorted out and start making proper use of that, but I don’t have a lot to say that isn’t going to be posted here first, so I’m not sure if that’s a priority. Also, there is another project that I won’t be releasing myself but which I have worked on with someone else and that needs beta reads and revision as well. I’m also thinking about the next project(s). In fact, I woke up from a dream this morning that may end up being the inspiration for a new horror short!

Revision and editing on these two finished first drafts will take up a lot of time. Since those things can’t be measured in word count, I’m not sure how best to track productivity there. Just setting a goal for writing a certain number of words has turned out to be flawed. I want and need to get the next book out there to my readers, and now that the first draft is done, that needs to be a focus.

I do still think that shooting for an average of 500 words per day is a good target for the year. If I don’t write another word, my average output just from so far this year won’t drop below 500 per day until May 10th! At least, if my understanding of what my spreadsheet is telling me is correct. I should be eyeball-deep in the next project long before then! But, I still don’t know of a good way to measure productivity on those other tasks that don’t produce words. All I can do is try to make each day a day in which I did something to move things forward and hope for the best!

Next up: The long road to publication for A Man With A Gun. That means beta reads, revision, editing, revision, cover art, promotional materials, and all the rest! Stay tuned!

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A quick reminder: The Card is still free and will likely remain that way. If you haven’t picked up your copy yet, go grab it!

New Year, Same Me!

It’s that time of year when everyone seems to be making new year resolutions – and then posting about it. So, what are my resolutions?

Honestly, I don’t generally do that whole resolution thing. Not since I was a kid anyway. I quickly learned that making a promise to myself that I wasn’t sure I could keep was a good way to do nothing but end up feeling bad about myself and adding stress to my life that I just don’t need.

The saying “New Year, New Me” sounds inspirational on the surface of it. However, for myself, that just doesn’t work. I know myself well enough to know that changing what year I (forget to) write on checks doesn’t change who I am. Besides, I kinda like the person I was in 2013. I think I’ll keep him around for a while.

However, a new year is a new beginning of a sort. It’s a good time to think about what we can do better. I think the new year resolution thing has gotten a little out of hand for some folks. When we look back on the year just ended, we should look at what we did right as well as what we could have done better. We should certainly note those areas we were lacking in, and try to improve ourselves, as we should always try to do throughout the year.

In other words, don’t resolve to scrap the person you have been. Resolve to improve that person. You don’t need a new you, you just need to be honest with yourself (about both the good and the bad) and continually work to be a better person today than you were yesterday.

For myself, one of the shortcomings I have often discussed, particularly on Facebook and Twitter, is my difficulty with staying motivated. With the new year, I’ve taken a new look at how I set goals, and how I manage my writing time.

To begin with, I had suspected that I might be a morning writer. That’s weird, I know, because who wants to do anything in the morning? However, I’ve experimented with writing first thing in the morning and so far it seems to be paying off! In fact, I’ve been using my wife’s laptop, which she keeps by the bed. I’ve done a lot of writing in the past few days simply by waking up, grabbing her laptop, and cranking out a thousand words before I ever get out from beneath the blankets. Whatever works, right?

Another thing I’m doing is trying to be realistic with my writing goals. In the past, I have had some truly epic days. The first night I worked on the first draft of Frostwalker, I cranked out over 12,000 words in one sitting. But that isn’t what’s normal for me. I have to be honest with myself about how much time I can realistically devote to writing on any given day, and how much energy and enthusiasm I can maintain.

I know that I can’t write every day. Between running a business, having a part time job, family life, and all the other things that make demands on my time, there are simply going to be days when I can’t (or won’t) write. Beyond that, when I do write, I know that I can’t consistently do 1,000 words every day. Some days are just going to be less productive than others.

So, I’ve decided not to have a daily goal. Instead, my goal is for a daily average. If I can average 500 words per day, that’s good for me. So, if I write 3,500 words on Monday, I’m good for a week. Of course, writing 3,500 on Monday doesn’t mean I don’t try to write on Tuesday. But, if I can’t write on Tuesday, either due to work commitments or just sheer lack of energy or motivation, I’m covered. This gives me some wiggle room. At the end of the year, if I meet my goal, I’ll have written a total of 182,500 words, which is a couple of average novels worth of content.

Of course, 500 words per day isn’t great. However, that’s not a limit (I can and do write more), it’s just a realistic (for me) goal. It is very important in any endeavor to set goals. Without goals, you can’t have direction for your energy and you end up wasting energy for little or no gain. But, you’ll find nothing but frustration and despair if your goals aren’t realistic. I have to be honest with myself, and that means that 500 words per day on average is a reasonable, reachable goal. Setting a goal of 1,000 words per day, and then getting 800 per day, means I’m failing. Setting a goal of 500 words per day, and writing 800 per day, means I’m meeting my goal and then some.

One interesting side effect of this has been that I’ve actually done much better than expected. I have, in fact, written over 1,000 words per day since putting this goal in place January 1st. However, today I took a day off to get caught up on work that had to be taken care of. I could have written this morning, but I knew that doing so would have made it that much harder to do the work that pays the bills tonight. Counting today’s zero word count, my average output per day since January 1st (inclusive) is 1,004 words per day – twice what I’ve set out to achieve.

I don’t know if I’ll keep up that pace, but that’s what I have so far. If I don’t keep up that pace, it doesn’t matter. My goal isn’t to average 1,000 words per day, but to average 500. I’m ok with this. I have accepted that I’m not going to be that guy who writes 2,000 words per day. Not at this point in my life, and quite possibly not even if I end up writing full time. I’m me, and I’m ok with who I am. I work to make the most of that person, not to frustrate myself.

For the record, what I’ve been working on is A Man With A Gun. I’m still not sure where this story is going, or what it might end up as. It’s a departure from my usual work, but nothing truly worthwhile comes out of staying in your comfort zone. It may be that the project will be a full length novel, or maybe a novella. It’s getting a bit lengthy to be a short story, having passed 15,000 words. It may also be that it will fizzle and die. That happens too, sometimes. But, wherever it goes, I intend to follow it to the end.

In any case, here’s to a productive and successful 2014!

A New Year With Much Promise

So, here we are in 2013. Honestly, if I survive another apocalypse, I’m going to add “Apocalypse Survival Consultant” to my resumé. It’s getting a bit old hat by now, don’t you think?

Apocalypse Again?!

Meh…

But, while apocalypses pass us by, the rest of life remains to keep us busy – and busy I have been! Sadly, not all of my energy has gone into my writing, but here’s a little update on what’s going on in that arena.

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A Word On Self Doubt – And An Update

Self doubt truly is the enemy of writers. I imagine this is true for many creative types. I know that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about just how good or bad my work is. Is it really worth reading? Am I just kidding myself about this whole writing thing? But, this is poisonous thinking. Let me give you an example. Continue reading