Everything’s Gone to Sha’Daa!

A short story I wrote is going to be published in the Sha’Daa: Toys anthology by Moondream Press this December! It is titled “Bag of Tricks” and it is about a magician who has to stop the apocalypse in his little patch of Pennsylvania Dutch country with little more than a toy fireman’s cap, a robot claw, a miniature dump truck, and a package of barbecue ribs. We can only hope he’s caught up on his MacGyver seasons.

What is the Sha’Daa, you may ask? It’s quite literally the end of the world, a 48-hour period where thousands of portals to the hellish realms open up and threaten the very existence of mankind. Only one individual stands in the breach, ready to defend life on Earth as we know it: Johnny the Salesman, an enigmatic figure who always seems to show up at the right time with the right item, available at just the right price. Better pay up, because you’re going to need whatever he’s offering if you want even a chance at beating back the hordes of hell ready to bust up your neighborhood.

Sha’Daa: Toys is to be the sixth and final short story anthology set in the Sha’Daa universe. The others are all available on Amazon either as a Kindle Unlimited item or as a paperback book, each filled with stories ranging from the serious to the campy. All are fun reads. I burned through them after I heard about the Sha’Daa series from editor Mike Hanson down at LibertyCon in Chattanooga, and I can’t wait to read all the stories in the Toys anthology.

List of the Sha’Daa Anthologies:

  1. Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse

  2. Sha’Daa: Last Call

  3. Sha’Daa: Pawns

  4. ShaDaa: Facets

  5. Sha’Daa: Inked

Look for Sha’Daa: Toys mid-December! I will post a link as soon as I have one.

What to Expect

I’m finally settling back into a routine for my writing. So far this year I’ve written a short novelette, a flash fiction piece, three short stories, and I’m almost through the outlining process for the first book of the year. The book I’m behind schedule on, but such is life.

LibertyCon came and went quicker than I thought it would. That was a lot of fun, and the family members that were with me enjoyed themselves, too. That was great in and of itself. A convention for professionals, but also for fans and friends. Lot of great panels and workshops, as well as a lot of cool authors to learn from and chat with. I’ll go into more detail about all that in a separate post next week. I didn’t want to wait this long to write about LibertyCon, but we had family up until just last week and this week has been crazy with catch-up work.

My days are mostly taken up with writing and the day job in equal measure, so that leaves little time for reading. Good thing I’ve got a Kindle Unlimited account, and many books have Audible narrations available with the Unlimited subscription! I’ve “read” more books this way in the last six months than I have in the last three years, and it’s been great. I get through at least one a week, sometimes two. Expect at least one review a week, on Fridays for sure. If I do two, the second one may be a day earlier, on Thursday. I’d like to have recommendations up for anyone looking for something to listen to over the weekend.

That is all for now! Back to work.

Writing Every Day vs. Binge Writing vs. Some Combination There-Of

The title says it all: how do you prefer to write? Do you like to write a little bit each day, setting aside whatever time you can between activities? Or, do you save up all your writing time for a couple select days and just write for hours and hours?

I’ve discovered that I do both. At first I thought I needed at least an hour – preferably more – to get any real writing accomplished. Then I got a job in a city and had to commute back and forth by subway. The individual legs of the journey would take anywhere from 15 – 25 minutes, and I used to spend that time engrossed in whatever book I was reading at the time. But, that changed one day when I was riding home and just had the urge to write an opening scene to something. Didn’t know where I was going with it, but I knew if I didn’t write the scene down then I would forget about it. So, I put the book away, pulled out a notebook, and started jotting things down.

10 minutes later, as the train pulled in, I had an entire page written. The prose wasn’t very good, but it was a page! A full page!

I started doing this every day, getting several pages written during each commute. I would then go home and transcribe them to the computer. It was a great setup, and quite a bit got done during those days.

But, jobs changed, schedules changed, and I suddenly found myself with more free time to write. And that, as most writers know, is both good and bad. I find I need just a little bit of pressure in order to write efficiently. Too much time and I dawdle, thinking I have plenty of time to get stuff done and – oh, wait, it’s already 4:00 PM and a paragraph’s been written?

My solution to that has been to time myself, either with the stopwatch feature on my cell phone or the handy dandy Online Stopwatch. When drafting I will time myself until I complete a page, and then attempt to beat that time during the next page. My goal is to do at least six pages an hour. The first couple of hours tends to be the slowest, but as the hours creep by the word count per hour rises quite a bit. I’ll average 1,000 words in an hour at first, but by the end of an 8-10 hour writing binge I’m doing upwards of 1,500 words an hour, if I’m really into the story and have enough notes prepared to carry me that far.

I love these long stretches of time. Not only does my overall productivity climb, but I find that I become more immersed in the characters and the world at large and insights occur to me that wouldn’t come in a much shorter session.

I need those short moments as well, though. There are days where I can’t devote even a solid hour to writing, especially now with my work schedule. If I keep myself from writing even a little bit during these busiest of days I start to feel like crap, like I’m no longer a writer. While I don’t believe that all writers must write every single day if they want to hold onto the title, for me this is a must. Something must be accomplished every day, even if it’s just a single page or a short scene.
So, what works for you? Or, have you figured it out yet? If you haven’t I recommend trying to write several different ways and see what works best.

Adjusting to New Schedule

Not much activity on the site over the last week or so, but stuff has been happening. I can guarantee you that!

I’m adjusting to a new work schedule, and I’ve been trying to figure out the optimum way of doing things. There’s a project I’ll be working on for the next 3-6 months that needs to get finished, but writing also needs to get done. The project will take up a lot of hours, as will the writing. We’re looking at 70-80 hour weeks. I’m not complaining, but I’m trying to juggle it from a logistics standpoint.

So, with that said, I don’t know how much I’ll be posting of my regular writing accomplishments. Likely weekly or twice weekly, but not daily like I had been attempting to do. There just won’t be much to report some days, especially if I focus on this project one day and write the next, rather than try to do both on the same day. We’ll have to see, but I am still alive and active! Just not as active (Writing-wise) as I would like. But, bills have to get paid. And as long as the writing gets finished in the end, that’s all that matters!

With that said, I’ve noticed I have a plethora of drafts for stories (Anywhere from second drafts to fifth drafts), but nothing I’ve started in 2015 has been finished and submitted. I have another draft I’m working on now, but I might put it aside this week and focus on getting one or two of these other stories really finished. There’s also a story from last year I want to rework into something better. I rushed it to get it sent in somewhere and, as you would expect, it wound up getting rejected out of hand. Word of advice: if a story’s not ready, don’t rush it. Do everything you can to get it done, but hey. Sometimes it just needs more time.

Pausing to Learn

I have a bad habit (Well, numerous bad habits, but specifically in this instance…) where I tend to focus solely on writing to the exclusion of anything else. Editing takes time, and even though that’s where the real story appears it sometimes feels like a waste of time. I feel pressured to get back to drafting and redrafting, and creating something new to start the process over. I also sacrifice time spent reading and learning new things in order to draft more. Writing more is always good, but without involving learning in the process I’m just spinning my wheels in the mud. I’m not getting anywhere.

I wrote a ton of flash fiction pieces back in 2011, when I had a good bit of spare time. Every other day I was cranking out a few drafts of a 1,000 word story then sending it off to somewhere. And rather than read someone else’s work or try to learn a new process or technique, I would dive on into the next story idea. And guess what? Stuff was getting rejected left and right. At the time I just assumed it was because it was good, but not good enough to get published.

No, actually, it was all crap. Half-finished ideas, second-draft rather than third-draft material, world-building exercises rather than full stories (Still guilty of that one from time to time). I was doing everything wrong, and not learning a thing from it.

That’s bad.

Today my intent was to brainstorm ideas for an upcoming Black Library submissions deadline. I didn’t get any of that done. I spent my exercise time listening to a couple of Writing Excuses podcasts and came across a great video series on story structure by Dan Wells. He outlines a story structure he came across in a roleplaying game manual, something that works for any genre and really any medium (He uses both books and movies in his examples). The videos totaled up to just shy of an hour, but I spent nearly three hours going through it, taking notes, and basically absorbing everything I could from it. It was very illuminating, and I’d recommend it to anyone.

Suffice it to say, I didn’t get to work on my brainstorming, nor did I get to work on my own novel. But, I did learn a new method that I believe will help tremendously, with short stories and novels. So, a wasted day? I think not.

Work begins again tomorrow! Stay tuned for more updates.

 

Writing in Public: Day 12, Month 6

Today was a bit more productive than yesterday. Continued with my work on “False Seer” and managed to get about 3,400 words written. I’m midway through the story now, and hope to get the rest of it finished before the weekend is out.

I still need to get back to editing “Fire with Fire” and planning “Still Water.” But, like I wrote about yesterday, I think I will wait until “False Seer” is done. Fortunately “False Seer” takes place in the same universe as “Fire with Fire.” That means any work spent on one ultimately helps to build up the other. They take place in different areas of the same continent, but there are common ties to them.

Blog Posts: 146
Planning and outlining: 000
Short Fiction: 3,375
Novel Fiction: 000
Salable words: 000

Total Fiction for Month: 27,776

Total Salable for Month: 988

Total Fiction for Challenge Year: 229,403

Total Salable for Challenge Year: 45,382

Writing in Public: Day 11, Month 6

Today was a wasted day, at least during the day. A lot of errands that needed to be run, in addition to one set of phone calls that ended up taking up way longer than it should have. But, when one deals with a bureaucracy one should expect that, right?

Anyway, I sat myself down after dinner and wrote for at least an hour or so. Still continuing with “False Seer.” I think I will try to get it written before I get back to editing “Fire with Fire.” Depends on how the next few days go.

Blog Posts: 118
Planning and outlining: 000
Short Fiction: 1,248
Novel Fiction: 000
Salable words: 000

Total Fiction for Month: 24,401

Total Salable for Month: 988

Total Fiction for Challenge Year: 226,028

Total Salable for Challenge Year: 45,382

Where I’ve Been

The last couple of weeks have been strange for me. Up until a few months ago I was not actively writing on my blog, nor was I actively keeping up with my daily word counts. At the end of approximately 8 weeks of doing just that I felt like I was in a good rhythm and ready to keep going forward with it! Before March was over I had made my April schedule out, and was going to get more written than in the past two months combined!

Or, so I thought.

A couple of hours after getting the wonderful news about the acceptance of “Mechanicis Solis” by Fictionvale, my wife’s car broke down. It had been acting up, but I thought I had fixed the problem the weekend before. It was running great all day, so I decided to go pick her up from the office in her car. Big mistake. It waited until I was almost to her office to start giving me problems, and we were almost home when it finally gave out. Had it towed back to the house since – once again – I thought I could fix it. It hadn’t been acting this bad since I changed this one part out so obviously changing that part back should have fixed it, right? Well, you can see where this is going.

Then, to make matters worse, both of my day jobs exploded with more activity than I knew what to do with, and that has yet to let up. As such, no writing has actually been done at all this month to any great degree, though I have made some headway on planning for a few of the April 30 deadlines that I want to meet. Further, I’ve been reading through my recently acquired copy of David Farland’s Million Dollar Outlines and learning quite a bit. I’m about a third of the way through it, and plan to post up some of my notes from the book. I’m also considering taking one of his online courses later this summer, so if anyone has done so please let me know how it was! I’ve heard nothing but good things about them.

Anyway, I am going to cut down on some of my goals for the end of the month, but here are the ones I’m still committed to. If the good Lord is willing, it will be possible to pull off even with the extremely busy schedule I’ve been hit with:

Novel Goals:

  • Finish reading and taking notes of Million Dollar Outlines.
  • Choose which of two novel concepts to outline, and outline that one.

Short Story Goals (In no particular order):

  • Crossed Genres Time Travel, Entry 1
  • Crossed Genres Time Travel, Entry 2
  • Spindles Fairy Tales, Adult Version
  • Spindles Fairy Tales, Child Version
  • Penumbra Hyperspeed Issue
  • PARSEC Contest Entry

I will be starting up the “Writing in Public” challenge again tomorrow. Not sure how productive the end of this month will be, but let’s do our best!

 

Writing in Public: Day 17, Month 02

The second revision of “The Lone Blue Strand” is finished. A lot of the language has been tightened up, and the story has been condensed down to 3,950 words, much of it written from scratch or adapted from the first revision. There’s still a bit more to be done, but I’m confident I’ll have it finished and submitted tomorrow evening.

The second revision of “A New Face on an Old Place” is also coming along. I added another 1,910 words to the second revision. Tomorrow I plan to push through the rest of it and hopefully arrive at a cohesive plot that I can condense down. My goal is between 3,000 and 4,000 words.

I’ve also decided that I’m going to attempt a rewrite of “A Necessary Sacrifice” for this quarter’s Writers of the Future competition. I really want to submit “Sublease” to them, but I still don’t think my skills as a writer are quite up to what I want to pull off in that story. I’m hoping to get that one out for the June deadline.

  • Nonfiction: 430
  • Planning and outlining: 000
  • Short Fiction: 5,860
  • Novel Fiction: 000
  • Salable words: 000

Total Fiction for Month: 42,607

Total Salable for Month: 7,290

Total Fiction for Challenge Year: 92,830

Total Salable for Challenge Year: 18,234

Writing in Public: Day 07, Month 02

“UnCivil Engineering” is finished!  It has also hereby been renamed “Zombielock.”  It came in at about 4,800 words.  Edited it down quite a bit and got some critical feedback on it.  It’s been fired off to Unidentified Funny Objects.  Hopefully we’ll get some good results for it.

Also finished my final edits on both “Alien Concept” and “Blue Pearls.”  Both have been sent off to Crossed Genres for their first-ever flash fiction themed issue.  They’re accepting up to three stories, so I’ll have to cook up another between now and the end of the month.  I don’t know that my flash fiction pieces are any good, but they’re a fun challenge.  Developing a full beginning, middle, and end is a tough thing to do in 1,000 words or less.

Ok, on to today’s numbers:

  • Nonfiction: 91
  • Planning and outlining: 350
  • Short Fiction: 2,400 (Halved the salable total, as it wasn’t all new words)
  • Novel Fiction: 000
  • Salable words: 4,800

Total Fiction for Month: 12,448

Total Salable for Month: 4,800

Total Fiction for Challenge Year: 62,671

Total Salable for Challenge Year: 15,744