Gearing up for a busy writing (and music) year.

After a year of being almost in stasis, of stumbling and letting things slide, focus feels like it is returning.

I knew I would be more focused this year, but then Dean Wesley Smith offered a publishing challenge. I signed up. Nothing will motivate me more than having to report in monthly. I had already planned to release a piece of writing each month, but this ups the ante with each monthly item having to be a novella (20,000 words plus), a novel, a collection of stories (minimum five) or an omnibus of novels.

That’s a level up from where I was heading – I was aiming for four novels, and eight stories. Maybe putting out a story collection later in the year.

Now, I did  put out four novels last year.

But it was a bit haphazard. There were a couple of standalone stories in the mix too. This year I’ll be scheduling everything. Doing preorders (hoping I can figure out how to get the paperback to run as a preorder on Amazon, rather than just dropping the moment I complete the uploads).

I’m formally beginning the challenge from May (I have some travel and other commitments through to April), but I’m still sticking with the release per month schedule from January on to April anyway. Targeting the last day of the month. The first is available for preorder now – the short sci-fi thriller “Life Span” (short as in sixty odd pages). I’ll do a proper promo post on that soon.

Life Span

Life Span will be out on January 31, and the preorder will be pretty wide shortly. Here’s the blurb

Cody Albine watches as her elegant and well-organized presentation collapses. Right in front of her last chance at getting corporate funding for the project of a lifetime. Her absolute passion.

But hope lies with her friends. It might take compromise, but a little compromise between friends never goes astray.

A short biological sci fi thriller with a heart. From the author of Overrun and L-Own.

 

I’m also putting some focus back on getting music out.  Some few of you may know that I make electronic music as Venus Vulture.

Chelden River Suite 2

For the last few years I’ve still been making music, but letting it linger on the hard drive. Some I’ve been sharing with Kendall, my collaborator from December Nightskies. We release music as Shadows on the Snow.

Even that has slowed down a bit.

So, my challenge this year is to get some music fragments to Kendall each month to see if we can do some Shadows on the Snow releases.

I’m also taking on getting a new Venus Vulture album out every three months. It’s not like there’s a shortage of music (either in the world or on my hard drive), but the act of getting the music out there takes some focus for me.

Chelden River Suite, a four part album, is already up and available at Bandcamp, again as a preorder for full release on (you guessed it) January 31.

I’m also figuring out reactivating venusvulture.com. After all, I’m paying for that URL.

 

Add to that keeping this site active, posting weekly at prowriterswriting.com, staying fit and healthy, a little travel, a WorldCon to attend and everything else that keeps us going, I think it will be a pretty fine year.

Scheduling 26 publications this year

 

As I continue to attempt the business of getting a handle on having indie publications, I’m starting to get a rhythm beyond the haphazard. Over the last few years I feel like I’ve certainly gotten a handle on the writing side of things – writing every day, finishing everything I start, and so on – but getting that material out sometimes gets away on me.

Last year I managed just eight publications. Four novels and four longer stories (some of those in the image above). I didn’t even manage a single collection of those stories, which would have bee kind of easy.

Ah, well.

So this year I’m challenging myself to publish 26 items. One every two weeks. So far I’m on target. Just. Twelve weeks into the year and I’ve managed to publish six items. Two novels (albiet one being the shorter Raven Rising), and four longer stories.

Some of the 26 publications will be collections, which helps, since some of the stories will have already been formatted ready to go. I will try to make sure that each collection has one unique story in, in some cases they might be mostly unique.

I have enough writings ready to go to keep this up for a while, but at some point I’ll run out unless I keep writing. Well, keeping writing is the easy part. Keeping this up might push me somewhat.

Working on learning how to write better blurbs too. And to make better covers. And to get my website looking better. And to do some courses. And to get more things published in the professional magazines. And to just be a better writer.

Some year. Looking forward to it really.

 

Books so far this year at my Smashwords page, or on Amazon. Also on iBooks and so on…

Interesting side note, yes, the Lord of the Rings films, and related items show up on an  Amazon search for my name. I figure because a couple of the hobbits were played by Sean Astin and Dominic Monaghan. As if I didn’t get enough Lord of the Rings already, what with living in New Zealand 🙂

Failing to success

 

Low memory small
Low Memory – image by Luca Oleastri

After writing about a novel a month for three months as part of Dean Wesley Smith’s challenge, I thought why not try for one more novel in the following month. With the challenge, there was some flexibility, in that up to half of the novel could be written in the previous month. The challenge  ran through June, July and August. I began the first novel on May 18th, and wrote about 14,000 words by May 30th. Less than half the novel. I finished the last of the three novels on August 22nd. So it took a bit over three months to complete the three.

 

I decided to have a go at writing a novel within a calendar month (yes I know about nanowrimo). I started Low Memory on September 1st. Come September 30th, I hadn’t finished. I’d written 53,000 words and the novel wasn’t finished. It feels like the story wants to be longer, so I’ll continue to the end. All three of the challenge novels were 50,000 words or under.

So I failed. Failed to write a novel in a calendar month. But guess what? There’s success in there. It feels like the novel will come to an end in the next few days. Probably close to 60,000 words. So, even though I didn’t write a novel in a month, I will have written a novel in around 35 days.

I’ll call that a success.

Three months down, three novels complete.

Ice Huntersglass baysmDeuterium shine small

I’ve done it! I’ve completed the challenge. Three months. Three novels.

I started in on Dean Wesley Smith’s challenge on May 18th. Under the terms of the challenge, I could write up to half of a novel in the previous month (as in, write up to half of June’s novel in May, half of July’s novel in June, half of August’s novel in July). I finished up Deuterium Shine on August 22nd. Three months and four days.

Two science fiction. One thriller. Obvious from the covers, I hope.

Two from series. One stand alone (Deuterium Shine, though that might need a sequel).

Short novels, I’ll admit (41,000, 45,000 and 50,000 words respectively). Most of my previous novels run to about 60,000 words. One or two have crept up over 80,000 words. Still, it’s 136,000 words for the three months, only around 1400 words per day (though there were a few side tracks in the novels I cut out, so still closer to my usual 1500 words per day actual writing).

Now to get them tidied, copyedited and out into the world.

Writing these has been the: Best. Fun. Ever. Right now I’m working on a few short stories, but I’m thinking I’m going to continue with writing a novel a month for the rest of the year. Might as well, since it’s, you know, so much fun. Who knows, I might complete a few more novels by year’s end.

Onward.

Images by; Algol (Ice Hunters), Claudio Arnese (Glass Bay), Savagerus (Deuterium Shine), all Dreamstime.

Novel three underway, novel two passed in.

glass baysmbig sur cover sm

Once again I’ve been caught up in the writing and forgetting to post. I think that’s a good thing.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m taking Dean Wesley Smith’s three novels in three months challenge. Heading into the last three weeks now, with the third novel well underway.

I completed the second novel – Glass Bay – and got it turned in on time. It turned out to be the second of my Emily Jade thriller series. It’s been a couple of years since Big Sur came out and I was starting to wonder if I would find the next book in it (my thriller Taken by Surprise, from last year) has an appearance from Emily, but it’s more like a side book, with a diff103339c0684d4020197c34075c956ca076bdabdcerent lead character (I just noticed that on the cover of the two Emily Jade books I’ve got “Author of Taken by Surprise).

Once I have Mr Smith’s first reader notes back I’ll get it underway with fixes and tinkering and underway to a copyeditor. Hope to have it out before the end of the year.

And a funny thing has happened. Not only have a learned a whole lot about writing, but I’m having fun writing a novel a month. Wondering if I might try to keep it up as a challenge for the rest of the year. That would be fun too.

The Verdict Is In

glass baysmIce HuntersThe three novels in three months challenge continues. I’m nearly done with the second novel, Glass Bay, and wondering what to write for the third novel to carry me through August.

Part of the deal with the challenge is that Dean Wesley Smith will give feedback on the novels. What I guess I forgot was that Mr Smith won’t pull any punches. Won’t give any quarter. He does offer caveats (which I think all first readers should), that it’s just his opinion, his view and his taste. I know that some of the authors he enjoys reading, I find difficult and not at all to my own taste.

What he does bring to the table is decades of experience as a professional writer, with millions of copies of his books in print. Yeah, I should listen, even if it bruises my poor little ego.

The points he made about what didn’t work in the novel are basic things that frankly I should know after all the time I’ve been reading, writing and studying writing.

Being in the character’s head. Depth of setting. Appropriate imagery. (to paraphrase his comments). Probably, easy fixes, for the most part.

Right now, I’m taking those comments and making a big cycle back through the current novel (Glass Bay) and creatively looking for where I’ve made similar errors and deleting sections, or writing new sections. Yep. Glaringly obvious now.

Of course fixing is one thing. The really interesting test will be when I write the third novel and keep those concepts in my head the whole time.

Frankly, ego aside, that feedback was, if not like a complete writing course, the crystalization of writing courses, where all those concepts suddenly seem much clearer.

As Mr Smith would say, onward.

 

Glass Bay image © Claudio Arnese | Dreamstime, Ice Hunters image © Algol | Dreamstime.

Three novels in three months: Novel number 2 update

glass baysmAs I’ve mentioned, I’ve taken on Dean Wesley Smith’s challenge to write three novels through June, July and August. I completed the first novel late in June and, somehow, I’m already nearing the halfway point in the second novel.

It turns out that this new book is a sequel to my 2015 novel Big Sur – and Emily Jade thriller. I’d wanted to write the next novel in the series, but have been distracted by, you know, writing science fiction (insert self-deprecating grin here.

Draft cover here – image © Claudio Arnese | Dreamstime. I don’t know if that will be the title even, but it’s kind of got the look I want.

Important thing to point out: this challenge is fun. Really. It pushes me along. It gets me focused. It gets me in the chair. And whenever I’m focused and in the chair I’m definitely having fun. I hope the fun comes through in the book.