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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May 2015 Update Addendum – My Writing Year So Far – With A Chart!

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.

The Road So Far...

The Road So Far…

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…

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…

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 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