And….we’re on Patreon now too!

What’s Patreon?

It’s a service designed to help people patronize artists, writers, and musicians that they like. For a small fee (the user gets to decide how much they want to spend), the patron gets certain benefits or rewards back, and the artists get a steady income from people who enjoy their work.

Why Patreon?

In my case – patrons will get first dibs on new books, BEFORE they are available in any store. Different levels will give ebooks, postcards of the cover art, or even print editions. Again, all before people buying from stores actually get to see the books. This is my way of reaching out to you directly and giving special bonuses to fans who love my stories. (more…)

21-Day Writing Challenge: Day 9 – Finding Balance

Cover Art

Cover Art

As predicted, I did NOT hit my 6k target for today, making today the first day I didn’t reach the goal for words. But that’s OK – I had a 2400 word cushion already built up, which allowed me to take this afternoon and evening and spend a bunch of time seeing friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and spending some extra quality time with Liz.

I still managed 3639 words today, which is excellent. It puts my overall count at 39,037 words to date, or exactly 37 words over my target for where I had to be at this point.

I actually think I’m even more ahead of schedule than that, because I’m pretty sure this story will finish somewhere around 60k words, instead of the 70k I’d originally planned. Which is fine – that will just give me an extra day or two for cleanup and editing. No problem with that!

It’s impossible to stress enough how important it can be to find balance in writing and the rest of your life. I’ve been so hyper-focused on finishing this book that I’ve let some things slide which I ought not to. Things like getting the laundry done in a timely manner. You know, day to day tasks which just have to happen whether you’re writing or not. And getting out of the house and into the world is vital to us as well.

It’s all well and good to start a crazy challenge. Even great if you finish it. I’ve done 26,000 words in a single day before to wrap up a NaNoWriMo where I’d been especially lazy about word count earlier in the month. But it’s useless if you can’t maintain a good pace for the long run. Chris and I may talk about the value of sprints, but writing as a career is much more like a marathon. It’s an endurance event, and it’s about finding ways to make the work happen day after day, week after week, with the weeks flowing into months and years.

More than that, it’s about finding ways to keep the joy in what you’re doing. Because if we grow to hate writing, or see it as just a job, then we might as well be digging ditches instead of telling stories for our rent.

Balance in all things. Even in challenges. Do the work, yes. Find ways to improve your performance, surely. But also remember that it’s supposed to be fun. Storytelling is play. Don’t ever let the joy leak out of it. Do things to help yourself recharge, to rebuild your creative energy. Connect with other real human beings, because its from other people that we learn and grow and absorb new ideas. We connect those dots to create our art. We find the dots to connect by being out in the world and doing things.

As always, you can sign up for email updates on my progress – click the link below to join and follow along. Would love to hear comments, either here or in emails, too!

Sign Up Here!

Writing in Public, Too: NaNoWriMo Day 10

writinginpublicTen days into NaNoWriMo, and the darned episode is still not done. I think this one is going to be great. The next – well. I’ve already got some pretty cool plans for the next couple of episodes. Yes, cliffhangers. Yes, fun times. Or not so fun, for the protagonists, but… That’s how these stories go!

But today was a special kind of awesome. Today I got to meet Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer.

I’ve talked about Neil a bit in previous blog posts. His “Make Good Art” speech is one of the most inspirational things I have ever listened to. Aside from being a good writer, the man quite simply has some amazing things to say about life. So when I found out that he and his wife were meeting in Harvard Square and parading over to the Porter Square bookstore for a special midnight release-minute signing of her new book, “The Art of Asking”, well – just had to go! (more…)

Ride-Along-Writing (and Dead Britannia!)

Kickstarter!

I’m officially launching my first Kickstarter on April 27th. It will run for 30 days, and if it’s funded, it’ll kick off a fiction writing adventure for me and every reader who’s signed on with the project!

MP900398805Ride Along Writing

Amtrak offered writers a free ride back in March – a “Writer’s Residence”, a few days on a train to write in an intense, focused way. A lot of enthusiastic writers applied for those spots.

Because its such an awesome idea, I decided to follow some advice and  “pick myself” to go write on a train! But because I am always trying to take things just one step further, I had to wonder – is there anything else I could do to up the stakes a bit?

Beat the Clock Writing

When I applied for an Amtrak residency, I offered to write a book – an entire novel – in one train ride. Three days, one ride, one book. It would be a push to write that much, but I’ve written about that fast before. I could do it again. I thought I would leave that train with a new book done, and Amtrak would get some nice PR from folks interested in reading about writing a whole book in a single train ride.

Live Action Writing

But when I decided not to wait around for Amtrak to pick people, I knew I needed to add something else. I needed to do something to make this trip unique. I needed to do something nobody had done before.

A little brainstorming later, and I had it.

Trains have wifi.

Which means I could ride on a train – and write – and put the work up live on the internet as I was writing it. An entire novel, from outlining through the finished first draft, completed live before an audience in three days.

That was something worth talking about. That was an idea that would involve and engage readers and writers alike. So how to get the word out, and get people on board?

A Kickstarter concept was born.

(more…)

Writing in Public, Too: Day 14

writinginpublicAll three of our kids have their own laptops. Not great or fancy laptops, mind; but they have something they can work and play on. I think it’s important for them to become computer literate at a young age, so we’ve prioritized their having regular access. One of the girls uses my old laptop as a hand-me-down. It’s a good machine – was a GREAT machine when I bought it – but it’s starting to fail now, so passing it on seemed like a good plan. Except now it’s starting to have enough issues that it’s interfering with her Minecraft sessions (crashed every time she tried to play) which is UNACCEPTABLE behavior from her computer.

So I went to the store this morning, and brought home a new laptop for her. A decent HP, low end model but OK specs.

Unfortunately, she hates the trackpad. It’s one of the ones with the textured surface, and she is very touch sensitive. Little bumps under her finger drove her nuts today when she tried to use the thing. She’s seven, so this sort of thing is a Big Deal.  (grin)  I suspect I am going back to the store today for a replacement computer.

Spent much of the afternoon talking with my wife about assorted topics, and helping her work on her room a little (closet curtain rod and curtain installed – check!), then helping her prep to head out to a play with friends. Also did some email surfing, and more looking at Facebook than I have in a while. Was fun – found some really awesome links friends and family had posted.

Kids and I stayed home (her turn for a night out while I covered home base) and ordered Domino’s.

Didn’t get to do any writing until after dinner. Then I got several sprints in. In between the chunks of writing, I also went looking for some cover art. Specifically thinking about something for the Starship first season compendium and the dark fantasy serial novellas that I’ll be going back to once Ashes is done. But I also ran into some cool images that will work for a prequel novel for the Blackwell series. Actually, it’s a prequel novel for a new character who doesn’t even get introduced until book three – but she’s an *interesting* character, and I can easily see a prequel being worth doing.

Tomorrow, the plan is to do some more work on Ashes Ascendant, but also plow through as much of the Starship 5 edit as possible. Want to get that work out ASAP!

 

Totals for Day 14

Daily Fiction Wordcount: 2000 words    Month to date fiction: 18900 words

Daily Blog Post Wordcount: 447 words    Month to date blog posts: 8020 words

Writing in Public, Too: Day 12

writinginpublicAnother work day. One more of those before the weekend, where hopefully I can get a little ahead on word-count.

If you’ve been reading this for a bit, you’re probably familiar with my schedule already. Up at 6am. At work by 7am. Today was a messy work day… I didn’t get out until 5pm, and had to skip lunch to even get out then. I ate my chicken and swiss cheese sandwich in the car after work. Seedless soft rye, which is a nice treat – haven’t had it in years, and had forgotten how much I liked the stuff. It was a delicious sandwich, although unsure how much of that was the actual taste, and how much of it was the not having eaten for over ten hours!

Got home and checked email briefly, then napped. I was pretty toasty, and needed the rest. Slept through dinner, which was sort of OK since I’d just eaten.

I woke up sometime around 7:30, plowed through a little more email, and worked on Ashes Ascendant for a while. Then it was time to tuck the kids in, and a little bit of “non writing work” related stuff that I had to take care of. Watched an episode of our TV program with my wife, and chatted with her for a while. Was back to writing at about 11:30, and put in twenty minutes or so.

Total for the day was 1050 words, over the two sprints. Not a huge number, but something. Really, that’s what it’s all about, when you’ve had a long day: keep getting in the *something* that means you are a little closer than you were the day before. Keep building the habit, the NEED, the drive to go forward. Every. Single. Day.

Because when you stop, that’s when it stops being important enough to you. That’s when you’re telling your brain that it’s OK to not worry about that writing thing. Same is true of anything, really. If you put effort into something every day, you will make progress with that thing. If you stop putting effort in, even for a little while, you’re setting a new standard, and your brain is going to get used to that new standard. That seems to be how mine works, anyway. (I’m curious about others’ experiences on this.)

Today’s writing was interesting. I’m at the point of the book where the protagonist, Ryan, makes the decision to go chasing after Something Bad. He doesn’t know what it is. He knows it just sent magical fire shooting out down a hallway with such force that he barely survived the experience. And it melted a hole in solid rock to escape. Whatever it is, he’s convinced it is enormously powerful, and has a decent chance of eating him for breakfast. But he’s going after it anyway.

Exploring that line of reasoning was interesting. Ryan’s knee-jerk reaction is always to stand up and help people when he can. It’s how things got rolling in the first book; we see that characteristic in the first scene of BOTH books, really. It’s a core part of Ryan. So going into that a little bit, exploring that bit of his motivation, has been a challenge. It has to feel real. Hopefully I’ve done OK with that. Any writers out there reading this who’ve had similar experiences with exploring character motivation?

All right, off to bed. More writing tomorrow!

 

Totals for Day 12

Daily Fiction Wordcount: 1050 words    Month to date fiction: 16900 words

Daily Blog Post Wordcount: 591 words    Month to date blog posts: 7489 words