Update – August 2015 – Good, Bad, and Ugly

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!

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Update – May 2015 – Crunching Numbers, Another New Project, New Blurb

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…

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!

 

 

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!