Friday, April 29, 2011

On Goals for May

1. If not yet complete, finish The True Adventures of Hector Kingsley.
2. When complete, begin revisions for Kingsley. Complete about 48k.
3. Revise Megan's Contractual Gods (Looking forward to it!)
4. Begin Iron Angels. Write about 6k per week.
5. Go to the temple.
6. Attempt to go home teaching.
7. Do one social thing. Seriously, just one.
8. Take care of licenses and other needed renewals.
9. Begin a new job hunt.
10. E-publish Killer.
11. Buy new clothes. Em is way too happy about this one.
12. Stay somewhat sane. :)

What do you think? Too much? Too little?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

On the Second Novel

My second project came a long while after the first. I had only managed to get a few chapters into the Chrono Trigger fanfic, and I had not quite committed to the idea of writing stories after that.

Still, I had a habit of reading Star Wars novels when I was younger, and one day I decided that I would try out one of them for myself. I started with the idea that a Rebel group had made a dangerous hyperspace jump and accidentally stumbled upon a new planet. Then I pretty much just went from there, imagining up a new faction for the Star Wars universe and trying to stuff as much of what I enjoyed about the movies and books into the story. It was something that grew to be a fascinating project for me. I drew on inspiration from the Rogue Squadron books and their Wraith Squadron counterparts, as well as a bunch of other books I had read and enjoyed.

Then, about eighty pages into the new book, I lost the disk I had been saving the story on. With it was my only copy of the novel, since I had yet to learn my lesson from the last time I lost a book. To this day I feel hurt by that loss. There is no worse feeling than looking for something you've written and finding that the book--the whole book mind you--is gone.

And so collapsed my second attempt to write a story, once again foiled by foolishness and poor organizational skills. Luckily, when I started the third story I would be better prepared...

Monday, April 25, 2011

On Finishing the Book

So the plan is to try and finish The True Adventures of Hector Kingsley this week. I am facing a bit of a conundrum on how to do so. I have never written a mystery novel before, and while the twistings and turnings of the story are fun and all, it is hard for me to tell if I am doing them correctly without reader input.

The other issue is the amount of time that I have left available. I'm still working forty hours this week, and on Friday my family arrives to shower affection on Sera and see her blessed on Sunday. Em's family will be here as well, so things will be a little bit hectic. Add that to the usual end of the month chaos and I have a more or less full plate, especially since the ending of the story keeps seeming to get farther away the more I write. It's like I'm chasing it down a tunnel that just gets longer and longer the further I go.

Still, I hope to either be done or close to done by this Saturday, and from there I will start Iron Angels. Wish me luck; I will probably need it...

Friday, April 22, 2011

On Landmark Experiences

The other day my firstborn daughter crapped on me.

Ah, the precious memories I will have of fatherhood...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On My First Novel

So the first story I ever wrote was, though it shames me to say it, a fanfiction.

I couldn't have been very old, but I had decided to set out and write a satisfactory sequel story to one of my favorite videogames, one called Chrono Trigger. I don't know how familiar you might be with that old SNES RPG, but if you happen to run across it on an emulator anywhere, just go ahead and give it a try. The graphics aren't anything special, but the storyline and game mechanics still set it apart as a classic in my mind.

In any case, I decided that in spite of rumors floating around about a crappy sequel already in the works, I could write a decent story on my own. My theory was that after the big bad of the first game was destroyed, others of its ilk would come and try to destroy the world in the far future, which Chrono and his friends would then need to prevent. To do so would require that each of them increase their skills, resolve some personal issues and confront these new invaders to guarantee the survival of the world.

It was a wonderful little story that eventually contributed to my later development of the Game. (In Chrono Trigger there are only four elements, but I decided that the characters who didn't use magic or duplicated elements deserved to each have their own. Thus I ended up with the Seven Elements that the Game used from then on.) I had a wonderful time working on it, though my skills were obviously limited and the plot was a little Mary Sue-ish. At the same time, I felt the first little sparks of excitement over the chance to develop and create a story all my own.

Unfortunately my first foray into the world of words came to an abrupt crashing halt. My manuscript disappeared when I was about three dozen pages in or so, and I had not learned to back things up in any significant way. With that, my first attempt was crushed before I even completed a first draft, and I drifted away from the project afterwards.

At least, until my second attempt a couple of years later...

Monday, April 18, 2011

On Not Burning Out

Well, so I've managed to keep up my level of writing. I made 10,000 words at the very last minute of last Saturday, which brings the wordcount for Kingsley up to 60,000 words over all. It was an achievment that I'm actually kind of proud of. After all, I've made a goal and stuck with it in spite of the chaos my life has been lately.

However I am starting to wonder if I am risking a burn out. Sera is managing to keep me on the sleep deprived side, and 10,000 words is not an easy thing to do. On top of that I have my job, a beastly commute and other obligations to take care of as well.

So are there any tricks to keeping up a rough schedule without burning out? Or should I just not whine and get to work? Hopefully over the next couple of weeks I manage to figure the answer out, because life is only going to get more complicated from here. Anyway, I hope you are all doing well, and I will see you around!

Friday, April 15, 2011

On Blessings

You know, I have an awful lot to be grateful for.

It may not appear that way if you are familiar with my dour attitude and the whining posts on the blog here. I tend to get a bit mopey (yes just a bit, don't get snarky with me), and it is easy for me to be pessimistic instead of focusing on the good in life. Its a facet of my personality that I have tried to work on, with limited success. Failures, obstacles and other problems just seem to grab ahold of my attention and keep me zeroed in on the bad.

The past year or two have been good examples of how that outlook has affected me. I had to turn away from two different careers, was unemployed for a long while, faced all sorts of personal issues and now have to deal with the horrendous commute to a job that can many times seem very difficult. Those kinds of trials stick with me, and its a load on my back when I think too much about all that has not turned out as planned.

At the same time I have had a lot go well for me. We have built up a little nest egg in spite of our less-than-awesome cash flow. We've got an apartment in a wonderful area, with an incredible ward to help us. Our family still loves us and wants to visit us and have us visit them. My little baby Sera was born, and both she and my wife came through labor healthy and happy. I may have finally found the career I want to follow, and even though it may be hard I am willing to go the distance this time, which bodes well. All in all, my life could be much worse, and I have had many times to wonder at how the Lord has watched over me.

Perhaps next time I sit down to gripe about my lack of opportunities or my challenges, I would do well to remember that.

Well, I hope this post finds you all doing well, and I hope you are all enjoying your own blessings. Take care, and I hope to see you later!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

On Reviving the Writing Group

Well, our last couple of writing groups have been a bit, shall we say, lightly attended. I think part of the issue has been that a number of unique events, from baby births to moves to family issues, have kind of stepped in the way, and now it seems to be hard to get back in the habit of coming.

Still, I hope that I can convince people to keep attending. After all, the group has given all of us a lot of helpful criticism and advice, and it always helps to network a little if you are planning on going into publishing. Besides, the writing group is sadly one of the few social things I do on a regular basis, and it would frankly suck not to talk to my friends every so often, even if they are a few hundred miles distant.

I wonder if we should change the time to have it a bit later in the day. Maybe that would help the people stuck on the west coast at the very least. Another solution might be to find new people to join, though I don't know where I could find any. Crud. Oh well, I suppose we'll think of something. In any case, I'll see you around!

Monday, April 11, 2011

On Reasonable Expectations

My goal for the past two weeks has been to write about 15,000 new words on Kingsley, along with work and the other chores associated with my life. This goal was made so that I could finish the first draft of the story by the end of April and perhaps start something new by May in order to get the number of books and drafts up at an accelerated pace.

After the events of the last couple of weeks, I've come to adjust those expectations a little. Even when I was unemployed, I only achieved about 20,000 new words a week. Expecting three quarters of that while working a full time job with an hour long commute was likely a little optimistic. Having a baby right in the middle of that time did not help my productivity very much either. Free time, which translates into writing time, tends to vanish when you have a newborn around the house.

In light of those facts I've needed to adjust my goals a bit downward. I have managed about 10,000 words on both weeks, though it has required a little sleep deprivation and a couple of light days at work to manage it. That puts my current word count at around 50,000 words, which would be more than halfway for a 100,000 word book. I think I can continue to put out that same amount in the next few weeks, however, and so I hope to be able to finish off the story more or less on schedule. The story might actually turn out to be a bit shorter than 100k in any case, which would be fine with me. All I need now is to focus on keeping the same amount of work output, and I should be on track.

Here's hoping that nothing new pops up to stick in the gears... See you around!

Friday, April 8, 2011

On Dignity

Sometimes, the time is right for a heroic sacrifice. A stirring speech is given, a battle of last resort is fought, the last full measure of devotion is shown.

Other times, your highly principled investigator has to chase a mechanical rat through a house full of confused servants.

Not quite sure what that says about my writing recently, but oh well. I never said I had to be coherent, right?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

On Spelunky

Spelunky is a free videogame that I discovered through the evils of Youtube Let's Plays, specifically those posted by one Kikoskia. And it is hard.

If you don't enjoy videogames or have no interest in them whatsoever, that's pretty much all you need to know about it. Spelunky isn't one of those games that enjoys challenging you to help you grow in skill and experience, only to allow you a satisfying victory at the end. No, that is far too charitable for Spelunky. Spelunky does not challenge; Spelunky kills.

Basically, it is a 16 bit adventure game where you try to guide the little Indiana Jones stand in through a labyrinth of traps, monsters and treasure. Your goal is to make it through 16 levels of pain, death and more death to reach the ultimate treasure hidden on the bottom level, which counts as a win. I have achieved this feat a grand total of zero times. Out of seven hundred and counting.

Fortunately, if you bribe the local shortcut maker with enough cash, he makes a little shortcut tunnel for you to access the lower levels without running through the earlier ones. Such an advantage has helped me gain success far more frequently. A grand total of twice.

For those laughing at my crappy gaming skills, I must shake my fist in your general direction. Then I must emphasize that this game is hard. You are only given four hit points, and every single hit you take robs you of one. Completing a level does not restore them, and only by occasionally rescuing a damsel in distress can you gain even one point to stave off your inevitable demise. In addition to the plethora of available monsters waiting to drain the life from your adventuring body, there are traps which just flat out kill you. Spike traps, booby trapped voodoo poles, alien spaceship beams, lava pits, bee spitting mummies and a giant golden statue man that wants to squish you dead are just a few. To fight these traps and the monsters lurking among them, you have a whip, a few bombs, and some rope. Yeah, good luck.

So for those who like hard videogames that harken back to the SNES days and have a masochistic kind of determination not to let some giant spider eat your face and get away with it, then Spelunky awaits. Just don't say I didn't warn you.

Monday, April 4, 2011

On Life's Problems

I don't know how lots of people get through them, but here is little Sera's take on them in a nutshell.

Friday, April 1, 2011

On Sequels and Other Series

I have been pondering the e publishing market for a while, and one piece of advice that I have heard over and over is to not simply publish one book at a time. Apparently authors who have multiple books available enjoy a larger amount of success than authors who only have one book, mostly because readers buy more books from authors with other stories they can read compared to authors who only give them a limited amount at a time.

My question is, do the other books all need to be in the same series? I have several stories that I am partway through writing and revising, but none are actually in the same series. In fact, a lot of them seem to have trouble fitting into the same genre. Would that handicap my progress as an e published author if I put them up online at the same time, or would it be just as helpful? What do you guys think?