Tag Archives: writing goals

Novel number 1 completed

Ice Hunters.jpgAs I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m taking on Dean Wesley Smith’s challenge to complete three novels in three months. I’ve finished the first novel. 41,000 words.

A shorter novel for me (usually I hit around 60,000 words), but it’s still kept me busy. (Hence fewer posts).

The rules allow me to bank up to half the novel from the previous month (I wrote 12,500 words in May, so that was a good start). I’m now working on the second novel, banking words for July. It’s still fun, even if a bit intimidating.

The first novel turned out to be hard science fiction, a series book in the same universe as my book Asteroid Jumpers from earlier this year. The image is a draft cover for the new book – illustration by Algol | Dreamstime. I plan to have the book out later this year.

The second novel is looking like a thriller, in my Emily Jade series.

 

Writing what I love for the fun of it

gallostI’ve written a few books now. I write because I love to write. Sometimes there’s the temptation to write into current trends. Someone even suggested that I should write some romances because they sell really well.

Hmm. It would be nice to have have a book sell really well. Absolutely.

I doubt, though, that I could write a convincing romance. I don’t really read in the genre. I’m sure that would show. Chasing sales based on trends feels like hard work.

Lately I’ve been coming back to writing the kinds of books I loved to read while growing up. I could list a whole lot – The Godwhale, Ice and Iron, Icerigger – and I wondered to myself what if I just wrote some things along those lines? Would it be fun? Would the novels work?

One way to find out: give it a go.

Turns out writing like that is a blast. It’s more than that old adage of ‘write what you know’ and kind of ‘write what you love’.

My novel Astjewel of jeroid Jumpers comes from playing with the ideas and tone of Gregory Kern’s Cap Kennedy/F.A.T.E. novels. The Jewel of Jarhen was one of my favorites (though back in the eighties, I only had the first six and now, thanks to the Internet, I’ve discovered there were many more in the series). I also loved the Tim White covers, though many of the volumes sported covers that looked much more like 1950s SF

So, in Asteroid Jumpers I have an investigative crew, including an alien, battling through against impossible odds. I don’t know that my Captain Arlon Stoddard would quite measure up against virtual superhero Cap Kennedy, and the novel is unlikely to ever be mistaken for one of Kern’s (Gregory Kern was one several pen names used by prolific English author Edwin Charles Tubb – back in the day I read several Space 1999 novels by E.C. Tubb, fully unaware the authors were one and the same). Asteroid Jumpers is not intended as a pastiche, or even an homage, more just a ‘this is what the kid in me enjoyed reading, this is what the kid in me likes writing’.

And I had a whole lot of fun in the writing of it.

Should I write more about where my novels come from? What do you think?

Five years of writing every day.

keys.jpgFor a moment, I thought I’d wait until I hit 2000 consecutive days of writing every day, but I still feel like five years (1826 days) is a good round figure.

So, last December 31st, 2016 I made it through five years of writing every day. I counted the words written each day as I went (heading for annual targets). Some days I wrote a little (156 words for my lowest count), some days a whole lot more (over 8000 on my best day), most days around 1500.

Each year my total wordcount has crept up. From just over a half million in 2012 to well over 600,000 last year.

What did I learn?

Well, I hope I learned to be a better storyteller. Raymond Chandler is supposed to have said that every writer has “a million words of crap” in them before they start writing readable fiction. My five years has produced over 2.5 million. With the years before, I suspect I’m up well over three million words. I’m not convinced that I’m not still writing crap.

Dean Wesley Smith would say that a writer is the worst judge of his or her own writing. I’d agree there. Some of my stories I think are duds sell, and some I think are wonderful circulate and circulate without finding a home.

(Chandler also said “A good story cannot be devised; it has to be distilled” – I like that one).

Along with learning about writing, I’m learning about the business of writing. How to manage my time more effectively and how to worry less often. I guess another thing I’m learning is patience. Whether that be waiting for the response from a publisher, or waiting for my readership to grow. Getting there.

At the risk of getting myself in trouble, some NaNoWriMo thoughts for writers

National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo – is a celebration of writing, described on the website as “a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing”. The idea is to write a whole novel during November.

nanowrimologo.jpg

I think NaNoWriMo is a wonderful thing. It gets people writing. Gives focus and milestones and goals. Fabulous.

One little niggle though, and I may be wrong, so feel free to shout me down. It seems to me that participants are encouraged to write fast and sloppy. Get the words down and come back and fix them later.

As if ‘fast’ and ‘sloppy’ are irrevocably linked.

I’m not convinced that’s the best approach.

For a time I tutored in a university creative writing programme. I hold a Masters of Philosophy in creative writing. As part of my job I even run writing workshops for children. I’m not sure any of that really qualifies me to give NaNoWriMo advice (or any writing advice for that matter).

Nor have I ever participated in NaNoWriMo.

So, my thoughts are really just the opinion of a relative layman.

That said, I have written a novel in a month. It just happened to be June of this year, rather than November. I’ve written several other novels this year, mostly though, taking more than a month (forty days seems to be my around-about duration).

So, if I think ‘fast’ and ‘sloppy’ is not the best approach, what do I think?

Why not write fast and the best you possibly can? Those two can go hand in hand. Really, that’s how I strive to write. I can’t say if my writing’s any good or not (that’s up to the readers), but whenever I sit down to write, I don’t go sloppy. I write the best I can. Sometimes it works, sometimes not, but I’m always working to write the best I can.

I think if you write sloppy, that might be how you’re training yourself to write. I doubt that Venus Williams plays sloppy when she’s practising. I hope the guys who put a new roof on my house didn’t hammer sloppy. I don’t do a sloppy job on my taxes and come back to fix it later.

Write the best you can. Every time you go write. Even if you’re aiming to write a novel in a month.

So, that’s my two cents on NaNoWriMo. Have a great month. Write a great novel. And as you write, do the best you can.

100 Submissions

Last great time house.png So, as well as tracking my word count this year, I’ve also tracked my number of submissions. Now, I do keep close track of where and when I’m submitting (it would be kind of silly not to), but this is the first time I’ve ever recorded the actual number as well.

So far this year I’ve made 100 submissions. That’s submissions of short-stories/ novelettes/ novellas to various markets. It doesn’t count items I’ve sent to indie/ self-publishing.

To be clear, though, I have completed a total of fourteen new pieces. All of those submitted. There have been some novels that have gone directly to indie, so I’m not counting those.

Getting to one hundred submissions means some of those fourteen, and some of last year’s stories (and a couple from the year before) are finding themselves resubmitted. This is pretty standard practice. One market rejects a story, off it goes to another. Repeat. Heinlein would say ‘repeat until sold’.

Of those fourteen, I’ve so far sold six. Not a huge number for me, but I’ll take it (of course). Pretty low ratio in terms of submissions: six percent, but not too bad in terms of stories completed.

Cover illustration for The Last Great Time House of Muldemar Ridge © Ateliersommerland | Dreamstime.com

Starting a new novel

After finishing my draft of Guest House Izarra, I wrote a few short stories (well, one crept up over 11,000 words). I’ve done that through the year – finished a novel draft and spent a week or so on stories before firing up on a new novel.

Lost Ark

So, with those stories aside and awaiting attention before submitting, I’ve started on a new novel. After a few days writing I’m about 3000 words into it and having fun. It’s not the novel I expected to be writing. It’s not part of any series (though it may be come a new series – like I needed yet another series to manage). It’s got a life of its own.

I started out with the title Lost Ark, but as I thought about that I figure that’s a pretty well-used title already, so I’ll come up with something else. I’ve made a quick placeholder cover (with a quick placeholder title – unlikely that will be the final title). Graced with another wonderful image from Innovari/Luca Oleastri.

All going well I might get this though all its drafts and out sometime in the first quarter of 2017.

The month of the novel

Guest House Izarra draft thumbnail borderEarly in June I thought I’d try my hand a writing a novel in a month. Now, on the last day of the month, I can report something: Success. (insert requisite number of exclamation marks). With the success comes a tinge of, if not quite failure, at least some stumbling.

The success is that I have completed the draft of the novel. It came in at 61,497 words. Right on the mark as far as my novels go, and the general length for books in the series. I finished up on the 29th – a day to spare, yay. A couple of thousand words a day.

I celebrated the completion by opening up a new file and starting the writing of a new story. Since writing it pretty much the most fun thing, a new story is a great way to celebrate.

I hope to have the book out by the end of the year, once it’s knocked into shape. It’s cool to have a cover just about ready for it.

The stumbling, I suppose, came from the direction the story took. The Karnish River Navigations series is hard science fiction. It’s set in the distant future, on a distant planet, with some very high-tech premises. While those are present in Guest House Izarra, in places I realized that the action was taking a front seat, making the story angle off towards a straight thriller. That’s fine, it was still fun to write, but I’m not sure who the audience will be. Perhaps readers of the other books in the series will be forgiving. I’ll definitely make sure the next one is very tech-dependent. I’ll probably start that one in August. I’ll take more than a month over it, though, I think.

I noticed that right away with the new story too: a swing of the pendulum the other way. High tech all the way. Very much fun to write.