Articles and essays about the state of the industry.
All 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
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
Spent an hour alternating catching up on some emails with working on Starship edits. Then I made dinner for the family.
After dinner, it was back to work for a little while; then a break at 9pm to watch a show with my wife, then briefly back to work again. Didn’t have the stamina to stay writing for too long. Just feeling very burned out today. Not burned out on the writing – wish I had more energy for it, honestly. But I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open, so I think it’s time to call a stop.
Up again in the morning.
Some days are just going to be like this. Overtired, worn out, and needing sleep.
The idea with those days is to keep adding at least a few more drops to the cup. Because those drops WILL add up, in time.
Totals for Day 11
Daily Fiction Wordcount: 500 words Month to date fiction: 15850 words
Daily Blog Post Wordcount: 182 words Month to date blog posts: 6898 words
Well, today was another work day… And was too tired upon getting home to do much of anything. Answered some emails, hung out with wife and kids, even tried taking a nap and then waking up again. Not a lot of luck. The 6am wake-up time is brutal for me, as I’m more of a night person.
But we do what we need to do.
Long story short, I got zero new words done on Ashes today. Did some work on cleaning up the second editing pass on Starship 5, which I just got back this evening.
And I also wrote this… It’s from a response to an interesting thread on LinkedIn. The debate there is over productivity for writers, and how much impact does it have – wrapped up with quality vs quantity discussions as well. Fascinating thread, and it’s a closed group or I’d link to it. But here’s my post (slightly edited so it makes sense without the context of the posts I was replying to).
Productivity for Writers
I don’t think that being a productive writer is a “particular strategy”. Nor, honestly, am I some sort of poster child for that strategy, if it is one. I’m not a particularly fast writer. I’m MUCH less productive than most successful indie writers today. I wish I was more productive than I am; and much of the point of the “Writing in Public” challenge is to help improve my productivity.
Productivity isn’t about models or strategies, though. It’s about constants. If you spend more hours working on writing (whatever your personal process), you will produce more work AND your skill will improve faster. That’s pretty much set in stone: the more time you spend writing, the more stories you will write. The more stories you write, the better you will get at telling stories. Makes sense, right? Also, if you produce more work, you can publish more work, which WILL increase your visibility, and in my experience always increases sales of both current and older works.
So when I say I wish I was more productive, and need to work on being more productive, it’s because I see increased productivity as the number one factor involved in moving from part-time hobby writer to full-time career writer; which is my target. For people who have different targets, that may not be relevant advice.
For people with similar goals to mine, I do firmly believe that the more you are able to write – the more hours you work – the better your chances of achieving your goals, and the faster you will reach them. And I think that holds true for all fiction, and most likely for a lot of nonfiction as well.
We’ve left behind the era of the book a year writer, I think. Instead, we’ve re-entered a phase of literature where writers who work more will tend to have better careers than writers who work less. We really haven’t seen that sort of thing in a long time – not since before I was born, certainly. Most writers have spent decades being limited by publishers to a book a year, maybe two. If they wanted to write more than that, they were forced to use pen names.
And now that’s gone. Wiped away. Writers are free to write and publish as much as they can produce, and the lid is off the box. As a result, I think we will see a shift in which writers succeed, and the drift will favor those writers who are willing to spend the time to produce lots of stories.
Totals for Day 10
Daily Fiction Wordcount: 0 words Month to date fiction: 15350 words
Daily Blog Post Wordcount: 617 words Month to date blog posts: 6716 words
The podcast I mentioned in the last blog post rocked, so if you’re any kind of writer, check it out. Seriously worthwhile.
Was looking at computer stuff today. OK, here’s the scoop on my computer scenario. I have a pretty nice PC desktop – not screaming fast, but a solid and fairly new machine. I have an iPad that I like writing on sometimes. It’s a nice general purpose portable computer: some writing, some reading, some internet…great for checking email fast. And I have a Chromebook, which is my travel writing machine. I bring it places when I don’t want to worry too much about breaking something as expensive as the iPad.
We’re talking about buying a new PC for homeschooling the kids. I’m pondering the possibility of instead giving them my desktop, and swapping out for something else. One option I considered was a Surface Pro – which I could use with my desktop monitor and bluetooth keyboard, AND unplug to take along with me places like I do the iPad now. The kids could inherit my desktop AND my iPad. Another option I looked at was a Mac Mini, which is a nice little machine, and would synch naturally with the iPad so I could port writing over quick and easy.
Both have the advantage of being less tempting for loading computer games and similar distractions. I unfortunately bought such a nice desktop that it can run games pretty darned well, and while I am currently avoiding playing them very often, I’d like to keep it that way. (grin)
I am REALLY tired…so not staying up much longer. My day:
OK – up at 6am, off to work. Got out by 4pm, after a busy day. Going to be a lot of days like that. I got home by 4:30pm, tired, and chatted with Susan and the kids for a while. After resting a bit and checking some emails, we all piled into the car and headed out to the store to get some supplies. The kids are starting soccer soon – all three of them. There’s a local team for 5-7 year olds, so all of them get to play this year, and all on the same team. They’re really looking forward to it. But we needed new sneakers for one, shin guards for all three, and a third soccer ball. Picked up all of that and some other odds and ends, and didn’t get home until around 7:30 – which meant dinner was frozen pizza and reheated leftovers. Not the dinner of champions, but the kids needed something quick, and we were all getting a little tired.
After dinner, headed back up to my computer, and hammered out some words. A break to finish clearing my emails, and then some more writing. Then an episode of TV with my wife after the kids were in bed. I’d been thinking about doing a little more writing after, but frankly, I think I’m just too tired. So I’ll settle for the words completed today. It wasn’t a bad wordcount.
Totals for Day 9
Daily Fiction Wordcount: 1500 words Month to date fiction: 15350 words
Daily Blog Post Wordcount: 543 words Month to date blog posts: 6099 words
I went out early and got grocery shopping done. While I was shopping, I was listening to a podcast: the guys from the Self Publishing Podcast were interviewing Dean Wesley Smith and Kris Rusch. I’m only about halfway through the ‘cast, but it has been AWESOME so far! My favorite podcast and two favorite bloggers, all rolled into one. Can’t beat that!
My wife was out today from about 10:30am until 6:30pm, at a meeting for Arisia convention staff. Arisia is a Boston fandom con (SF&F) run every January, and she’s on the staff. In fact, this year, she’s the “Timelord” – the person in charge of tracking scheduling stuff and making sure things are happening/getting done on schedule.
I mean, c’mon – “Timelord of Arisia”? There aren’t a lot of titles better than that! (grin)
So she’s out for the day, leaving me with the munchkins. Which was good. Got to help them with their homeschooling a little. R is working on math: clocks and coins (she’s seven). She’s learning about telling time on an analog clock, which is tough because there really aren’t a lot of analog clocks anymore. She gets digital time pretty well, but converting back and forth between digital and analog was giving her some trouble. So we spent some time working on that.
I also replied to some fascinating discussions on LinkedIn and the Kindleboards Writer’s Cafe. Lot of stuff happening… Writers wondering what’s up with the Oyster ebook library, and why Smashwords is being so tight-lipped about how their distribution to that platform will work. (My theory is Mark Coker has been required to keep hush about terms because of the contract, and that he wouldn’t have signed Smashwords up unless the deal was a good one.) Some interesting chats about Google Books and the copyright lawsuit against them on LinkedIn, too.
The big deal for me today, writing wise, was that the Starship Episode 5 edits were in. So I spent most of the afternoon working in chunks on getting those edits taken care of. A lot of good changes to the manuscript, and I finished them all. Now the episode goes off for a final edit, and then it’ll be ready for publication.
If anyone reading this has been sitting around waiting on that episode, I apologize profusely for the delay. I hope you’ll feel this story is worth the wait.
I’ll also be producing a compiled version of the first five episodes, so if you haven’t started the series yet, stay tuned. Both episode 5 and the compilation ought to be out this month.
Susan (my wife) got home shortly after we’d sat down for dinner. It had been a long day for her, too. We were both pretty tired. She went upstairs after dinner to read for a bit, while I finished the last of the edits. Around 9pm, I was done, and we sat down for the season finale of the TV series we’ve been watching on Netflix.
Then I popped over to the computer, and hammered out another 45 minutes on the Ashes Ascendant manuscript. Got 1100 words done, which wasn’t bad at all – I figured today for a zero-words day, after all the editing, but the story is pushing ahead at a good clip at this point. The pace is picking up, like I said before, so my writing pace was excellent tonight.
And off to bed now, since work tomorrow means an early morning for me!
Totals for Day 8
Daily Fiction Wordcount: 1100 words Month to date fiction: 13850 words
Daily Blog Post Wordcount: 618 words Month to date blog posts: 5556 words
Just a quick post today. This was basically a day off… Spent time with my wife, time with the kids, and time out with a good friend. I did get a couple of important things done on the writing end, though.
First, the edits for Starship 5 are in! Tomorrow, I will be going over those edits and getting the manuscript ready for publication. So the release of the fifth episode is happening VERY soon!
Second, I did manage to get another 800 words in on Ashes. I fit it in between various events going on.
And, still a busy night here, so I’ll sign off for now. Lot to do tomorrow, which will be a big work day on the writing end. See you then!
Totals for Day 7
Daily Fiction Wordcount: 800 words Month to date fiction: 12750 words
Daily Blog Post Wordcount: 147 words Month to date blog posts: 4938 words
Got up this morning at 6am, off to work shortly after again. Another typical work day – doing a bit more there each day, as I get up to speed with how they do things there. Stayed from 7am until about 4pm. Worked through lunch. Wasn’t a bad day, wasn’t a particularly good day. Which makes it a step up from yesterday, so I’ll take it.
Headed home, and got stuck in slow traffic, so it took a while. I was pretty tired, so I made some coffee and headed upstairs to my computer. Checked emails, caught up on Twitter a little. Read up on some new stuff coming up in the publishing end of things that look interesting:
1) FlipKart started taking indie books last month, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to get onto their site. It’s not quite as clear as KDP or Nook Press. But now, Smashwords is going to distribute to FlipKart. Suddenly, Smashwords is looking much more interesting. For those who don’t know, Flipkart is a big internet retail website for India. And India has more English language readers than any other country in the world. It’s actually possible that India has more English language readers than the entire rest of the world…not sure. So it’s a huge market, and a growing ebook market. Finding ways to break into that market would be a Good Thing.
2) Oyster – a service opening up in a few weeks, which will charge $10 a month for readers to be able to read books from their stocks. Pay the monthly fee, read books (I gather as many as you want). Again, Mark Coker’s Smashwords has stepped into the breach here. Smashwords will distribute ebooks to Oyster when it launches. I don’t yet have details about how authors will get paid when their books are borrowed on the Oyster system, but I’ve known Mark (peripherally) for a while now. He’s a canny man. He wouldn’t have made the deal if it wasn’t worthwhile, so I suspect this is something to jump into with both feet.
As a result, I’m suddenly VERY interested in Smashwords again, where I was leaning away from using them anymore, just a month ago. I’d had great luck with Draft2Digital uploading to Apple and B&N, and can upload direct to B&N and Kobo anyway. Smashwords was looking a little superfluous – go figure that Mark would jump in and find more ways to add value to his distribution system. I will happily pay Smashwords the small percentage of sales they keep, if they’ll keep finding me new markets for my books!
Took a brief nap until after six, when my wife called me down to dinner. Which was pancakes and sausage: what we call “silly supper”. The kids always enjoy it when we do that.
After dinner, it was back upstairs, and a little more reading on the Oyster thing. Trying to find out as much as I can in advance, which unfortunately isn’t much. But I’m intrigued.
Then I got to work. Put in an hour on Ashes Ascendant, and just about exactly 1200 new words. Then it was time to get the kids to bed, and watch a TV episode with my wife. We’re working through the first season of Lost Girl on Netflix, which is fun, and interesting, and urban fantasy – so it’s nice to keep me on track for writing the Blackwell urban fantasies.
After the show was done, it was closing on time for the LADEE launch, so getting back to writing just wasn’t happening. I debated climbing the hill in the park near my house – highest point for many miles all around. We’re just west of Boston, you see – and inside the range to be able to see the launch, according to the web pages I was looking at the other day. The rocket was launched from the Virginia coastline, which made it the first rocket launch far enough north that I’d have a shot of seeing it. So a high vantage point seemed smart. However, the park is closed after sunset, and I had visions of trying to explain to a police officer why I was up there… (grin)
Staying put finally won out, so I pulled NASA TV up on my computer instead, and watched the launch that way. Then, because I had to, I peeked out my bedroom window at about the time when I ought to have been able to see the rocket.
And there was a little bright light out there, flickering through a tree branch. Was it a star?
No, it was moving. A plane, perhaps? I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
Then NASA announced the stage two engine shutoff on my desktop, and the light went out.
NASA called the stage three ignition, and it came back on.
I called my wife over, shut off lights, and got ready. She wasn’t at all sure it was the rocket.
NASA called the next stage shutoff, and it vanished from sight. Which was about as much proof as either of us needed.
We just saw a craft, built by people, carrying a cargo to the moon, as it was leaving Earth to begin its voyage.
For a science fiction writer, that moment when you see a glowing point of light that you know is the real thing…it’s a hard moment to describe. It makes me want to write better – makes me want to inspire more people. I want people to read things I write and dream big dreams about reaching into space. I want them to grow up and make those dreams into reality.
I’m SO in the mood for writing more science fiction right now. But I’m going to stay the course, and finish the Blackwell novel. Then I’ll probably shift gears back to something near-future SF. Because getting into space is something that I feel in my heart we ought to do. We are a curious race. We have always, whenever we reached a new vista, taken whatever risks were necessary to explore that new place. I’ll probably never get to go there myself, but if my writing helps encourage others to take those steps, I will be satisfied.
Totals for Day 6
Daily Fiction Wordcount: 1200 words Month to date fiction: 11950 words
Daily Blog Post Wordcount: 1076 words Month to date blog posts: 4791 words
No escaping it – into full on work days now. Up at 6am, out the door after a quick shower, and then at work before 7am. There until almost 4pm today. Hit email over lunch break, so I’d have less to do there when I got home. And had an absolutely awful end of the shift; really rotten on a couple of counts. So I was tired and a little fried when I got home.
Played a few rounds of the Rome 2 game, which gave me about an hour of recovery time. The game is a little buggy, but fun. Honestly think I might have liked the original better than the new version, but I’m giving it a little more time before I make that call. One plus about a game like that is I can play it in small, bite sized chunks. And it pauses well.
Right around then my wife was leaving for a meeting, and I started on the kids’ dinner. Which they ate. Kinda. It was an unenthusiastic day all around.
Got upstairs after dinner and did some non-writing job work for a while. Finally kicked off writing around 9pm, and got 1300 words done before my wife got home around 10. I’m still working on Ashes, and this part is practically plodding. The good news is, I can feel that I am about two scenes from the tipping point. This book is something like a roller-coaster: long, steady build up, and then a rocketing ride to the finish through the second half. Once that part takes off, I think the speed is going to increase dramatically. I can feel those scenes itching to get out. So much so that I almost opted to start on a later scene, skip ahead a little bit. But that’s not my usual work pattern, and I had a feeling it might hurt more than it would help. So I’m working my way through these last scenes of build up.
Things go “bang” in about two or three more scenes. And stay that way for the following 20,000 words or so, I suspect.
Well, I’ll find out for sure over the next few days! Looking forward to it.
Totals for Day 5
Daily Fiction Wordcount: 1300 words Month to date fiction: 10750 words
Daily Blog Post Wordcount: 387 words Month to date blog posts: 3715 words
Today was a slow day. Got to get up late – 7am – because I had to go to the doctor’s for a physical and some bloodwork. Stuff I needed for the new job. Got that done, then off to work. I got there about 10:30. Work is…a little confused right now. But the folks there seem nice, and I’m giving things a little while to settle down. Trying to learn what I can about how they do things; it’s always a little different everywhere.
So I was there until about 3:30pm, then headed for home. The drive took over half an hour, and I got in a bit after four. Was tired and a little out of sorts (from the rather disorganized day), so I hit the computer for email and a little surfing. Talked with my wife about getting the Rome: Total War 2 deal. I’m fond of the series – nice blend of strategy, tactics, and long term planning. And the deal I’d seen for about a quarter off with the first expansion free was still running, even though it was supposed to have stopped when the game released September 3rd.
Yeah, I like computer games sometimes. I try not to spend TOO much time playing them, but they’re a fun diversion.
So I got the green light to buy the game, and started it downloading. About halfway through the VERY long download, I ran out of steam. Just too tired to stay awake, so I napped for a while while my wife made dinner. She woke me up just before it was done, and I served everyone.
By the time dinner was done, it was around 7pm, and I was back upstairs, talking with Susan and trying to get the game to load up. I loaded it. It crashed. Hard. Rebooted my computer. Loaded it again, got to play for a short while, but it crashed as I was entering my first battle. Again, had to reboot my desktop. Guessing I have something set too high for the computer to handle, and I’ll have to turn the settings down. My computer isn’t some sort of gaming monstrosity; it’s just a decent desktop. So I’ll fiddle with it another time. Checked into Kindleboards briefly, and then watched some TV with my wife for an hour after getting the kids to bed at 9pm.
At 10pm, I started writing, and got an hour in. Oddly, I found I had to do some quick research in the middle of the writing. That’s unusual for me, but I realized I knew darn little about the African campaign in WW2, and that I needed at least a broad frame of reference for the story. So I spent maybe half an hour getting the general overview. I’ll do more in depth reading later, and make corrections in the text if I am off on any specifics. But mostly I am shying away from specifics – the story is set in the modern day, so all I need are broad strokes from the war.
All in all, I got a little over a thousand words done. My lowest wordcount yet. But I’m still doing a good job, overall, for monthly count. I am noticing a trend of downward movement in daily fiction counts, though, so it’s something I want to keep an eye on. Need to get the work done, even if I’m coming home a little tired. That’s the challenge, of course!
Totals for Day 4
Daily Fiction Wordcount: 1000 words Month to date fiction: 9450 words
Daily Blog Post Wordcount: 595 words Month to date blog posts: 3328 words