I have two short stories for free this weekend.
The Mirror, a tales from the crypt style story.
The Costume Shop, an R.L. Stein inspired novella.
Pick them up today and give yourself a short read to take up a night. Enjoy.
It’s the new year, and it’s time to look back at what happened in 2019, and see where things will go in the future.
2019 was a year of change. First, I quite my job and we moved from Seattle to Houston. That was a huge change for Bjorn and I, but so far it was definitely been worth it. It was also the first year I have been writing full time. That’s taken some getting used to, and I am finally starting to get into the swing of making writing/editing/etc a priority, but I have a ways to go.
In 2019 I wrote 209k words. (Red line on graph is story writing, blue line includes newsletters, blog posts, and other projects.) This was double what I wrote in 2017 and 18, and a lot closer to what I was writing before that dip happened.
With all that writing I published three books. Steel Heart, and Steel Line which are the second and third books in my litRPG series, and an anthology of scifi short stories, Stars End. I also started working on Vertigo, which I have uploaded six chapters of for free. It’s available on RoyalRoad, Wattpad, and WebNovel.
I am disappointed that I didn’t keep up with the chapter a week on Vertigo. To be fair, the reason I stopped was because of NaNoWriMo, and getting the 50k done on my Half Blood Sorceress, and book four in the litRPG took up a large part of my time. Then December I spent most of my time hand making all of my Christmas gifts. I forgot how time consuming crocheting hats could be. And a final trip back home to Seattle rounded out the end of the year, so I didn’t get much writing done in December, but I did spend some quality time with family and friends.
Going forward for 2020 I told my family I would be looking to complete, and publish, four novels. That will include book two in my Half Blood Sorceress series, book four in my litRPG series, finishing up Vertigo and publishing that on amazon, and …. I’m not sure what the final book will be yet, but I have a few ideas.
I have been scheduling time to write, read, and edit for this year. Three things I need to do more of in order to get my goals. I’ve also been making some plans to do something more with my art because it makes me happy, and is a nice break from writing when I need it. It also gives me something to do while listening to podcasts.
We’ve also committed to taking better care of ourselves, Bjorn and I. We’ve been eating more salads, going on walks, and getting to the gym more. It’s making him feel better, I’m still struggling with the exercise part, but I can be pretty stubborn, so I haven’t given up yet. I would just like to get to the point where it doesn’t feel awful every time I go… Don’t treat your body badly for years on end, folks, fixing it sucks.
Overall I have high hoped for 2020 going forward. More writing, more art, and more creativity in general. Lets see how far I can go with this.
Dust by Ember Labs is one such film. (Also available on Vimeo) This 26 min film is a mix of fantasy and science fiction that captivates the audience with the world building, and touches our emotions with the story telling.
Set in a world where everything is evolving incredibly fast, the trackers are there to record the evolutions, and find cures for diseases and poisons that might come of the quick adaptations. Humans, of course, have locked themselves behind walls to try and save themselves, but a wall doesn’t stop a virus.
The world is shown thorough the eyes of a man who has lost his way. Once a tracker, he has withdrawn into the city that he used to disdain. Now he has to venture back out into the wilderness to find the cause of a new virus, Dust, and a cure.
The CGI is beautifully done in this film. From insects with glowing wings, to interesting mushrooms that emit clouds of spores, and a large beast deep in the forest. The wilderness settings give stark contrast to the walled city rising up through the trees, and the apothecary shop sets the stage for our would be tracker.
Everything from color, to atmosphere, to sound, blends together to create a beautiful experience. Well worth the watch.
Have you ever noticed that a lot of fairy tales take place in the deep dark woods? Maybe that’s because there are creatures out there in the forest that want to eat you, and without a flashlight it gets really dark out there.
On that note chapter 4 of Vertigo is out today, and there is something in the woods, and it’s hungry.
Sometimes when you’re working on novels you can get to a point where progress seems so far away, and sometimes you can get disheartened. Even want to quite, or procrastinate.
There was a talk Adam Savage gave once where he said at some point in every project he feels like he has no business making. A man who creates amazing replicas, props, and cosplays that the world loves. A man who does one day builds that many would struggle to do in a month. Someone who has working on major motion pictures, and The Mythbusters. And he feels like he has no business making.
And that’s how I feel writing a novel. I am sure that many creatives feel like that, like they are an importer and shouldn’t even bother trying to create whatever it is you are creating. I get so far into a novel, hit that wall, and it feels insurmountable. But I keep going, a little at a time, pushing to get to the end because I know once I reach it I will have something awesome.
I’ve picked up little tricks here and there to help me get through it. One of them is writing short stories when I’m really stuck. At the moment I have been editing a few of the finished short stories I have, and trying to finish four other short stories. Since they are shorter I can usually finish one much faster than a novel, and that little boost keeps me going for the larger projects. Plus the stories I am working on currently are science fiction, while the novel I am working on is fantasy. This allows me a change of scenery, so to speak, and take a breather before going back to the novel.
Speaking of the short stories, I think I’m about ready to publish some of them. Another pass of the editors wand, and they should work well as an anthology. Oh, and a cover. The other four short stories I am still completing I already have a cover for, I just have to finish three of the shorts.
But the novel is still my priority. I’ve been working at a (mostly) steady pace trying to get through the second half of the book. I’ve hit a few snags with the plot, but I think I’ll be able to untangle them. Plot holes, they are my nemesis! Funny, it used to be fight scenes. Now I have a system for the fight scenes and I have more trouble with the time line. I think that’s because the story is taking place over the course of a year and I want it to reflect that.
My daily word count goal dipped a little in august, so I’m working hard to get them back up to what I consider a good pace. I still want to hit 1000 words a day by the end of the year, which means pushing harder and making fewer excuses. But I’m working on it.
By the way, here is a really good video about why many of us procrastinate, and some great ways to fight against it.
Now… off to write about dragons.
Amazon Prime day was just last weekend, but they didn’t stop everything. I just found out today that they are giving away three months of Kindle Unlimited for absolutely free for three months. You have to cancel after the three months or get charged $10, but there is no obligation to keep your subscription after the three months.
If you have a phone, tablet, computer, or any other Android or Apple device, you can read kindle books wherever you are. And the authors still get paid, so it’s great for everyone involved.
It doesn’t matter how much or how little you read, this is your chance to check out what is available in KU, and get your summer reading. Here are some suggestions:
The Hollow Series by Kim Harrison (A little like a female Dresden, but with her own twists.)
Ascend Online by Luke Chmilenko is one of the best litRPG adventures I’ve ever read.
Life Reset by Shemer Kuznits where a player gets trapped playing a monster and the only way out is to get stronger.
The Fallen Empire series by Lindsay Buroker. Think Firefly, cowboys in space, with a new flare.
The Baine Chronicals by Jasmine Walt. A young shifter in a world of mages. Fantasy with a touch of steam punk and political intrigue.
Jupiter and Cas are out adventuring again, this time in the pass going toward Uldwin, a bustling coastal city. But a trip through a mountain pass is never easy in an RPG. Steel Heart is out today!
You can also get Costume Shop for free today. Costume Shop was the story I released for Halloween, and it has a very R.L. Stein feel to it.
I am already hard at work on book three of my litRPG series, because gaming never ends.
I recently got an email from a young writer (young in her writing, I have no idea her actual age) and she described her writing to me in the same way I would describe mine. I write until I come to a hard part, jot down a little note, then skip to the next easy part to write. Anyone who is just trying to get their words down for the day has probably done this, or skipped that spot of dialog that didn’t quite work, or put down “battle scene with hero as the winner” or some such. I do this a lot for battle scenes because it takes me a while to puzzle through the moves to make it right.
The problem becomes, and this is me talking more about myself than anyone else because this is where I am in my writing… eventually you have to finish something or you have to admit this is just a project novel. Like that project car your dad had in the garage when you grew up. He kept it to tinker on, and play with, but never really got around to finishing it.
So here I am, 40, with hundreds, if not thousands of ideas in my idea journal, half written novels and partially written short stories, and only a small fraction of them finished. I keep putting aside the hard parts because… it’s HARD!
And damn right it’s hard. It’s hard because you’re writing something that is actually worth reading. Something with detail, and heart, meant to move people and get them to read. If it was easy then everyone would do it. If it was easy then there would be no value in it, but a book on a shelf has a value. People buy it and read it, then take their time to review it. If you expect people to spend time and money on your words then it should be good.
But there is good, and there is perfectionist. Finding that balancing point where you can actually finish stories, and get them out there in good order vrs tinkering on the story for years…that’s the edge that you walk.
Sometimes I do have to walk away from a story. Maybe it doesn’t work, or something isn’t quite fitting together right, so I put the story away and I work on something else. I’ve been working like this for years, and I have over a million words banked in my folders, waiting to be finished. (Here’s a picture, but this is not ALL of the stories I have started. The blue are published short stories and novels. Pink are finished, but not published. The rest plots, or started stories, but never finished.)
I have a whole shelf filled with tinker stories. I add a few words here and there, I might even binge through a few chapters on a novel, but finishing one isn’t easy. There’s always that point where it’s just hard, and I skip it.
I need to stop skipping it. I need to write down why it’s so hard and get my head back into the game. Last year was my worst word count in almost five years. That’s not acceptable, and neither is never finishing another novel.
So here’s to the hard parts! *Cheers!*
I’ve been doing the second draft for book two in my Half Blood Sorceress series. I’ve been taking a little more time with this one then I did with the Mermaid’s Curse books because there are a lot more characters. The continuity has to be there, which has resulted in a lot of rereading of the first book, and putting together a writers bible for this series about characters, their looks, and their history so I get things right. I’m sure I’m going to miss things still, but I’m going to do my darndest to get at least the plot right. Then off to an editor, of course, to get the grammar/spelling right.
I’ve also been working on a short story, Ghostly Intentions, about a young man who returns to the his childhood home to find a creature inside it. Lots of magic, and a few ghosts to work with. It’s going to be a novella when I’m done.
Then there’s the art. When it get’s too busy at the day job I can’t really write, so I doodle a lot, and some of those doodles become decent drawings. I’ve been working on things to do with them, pins, stickers, prints, etc. I have an etsy here where you can get digital prints, and a redbubble here where you can get some shirts and cups. I’ve even made some pins and charms, but I’m not sure if they are working out well.
The trick has been time management. I have time. I spend a bit of it playing video games, or procrastinating. So what can I do? Well…I have been wanting to stream on twitch more, and I think it’s time I do that. Once a week for a few hours seems reasonable. (It will be Wednesday or Thursday, depending on what’s happening at the time. Twitter will get you the most up to date info.)
Anyway, this is just a quick update. I’m hoping to finish Ghostly Intentions soon to get that out, while still working on the new Half-Blood Sorceress series.
A bright is a being that can hold a magic wand without exploding. Magic wands are so powerful that only a few people can touch them, and everyone else wants to control it because of the immense possibilities of it. And if you get all five in one place you can summon the dark lord, and enslave the humans once more.
So when a wand turns up on the wrong side of town everything goes wrong, and there are only two cops standing in the way of the destruction of an entire city.
The premise had me from the first commercial. An orc cop? Yes, please! Fairies stealing from bird feeders? Okay! Elves and centaurs on LA streets? Sign me up!
I was not disappointed. The story line was good, even if the ending was a bit predictable. The main characters were well fleshed out, and I loved the interaction between the orc and main cop. Of course the orc has problems of his own since everyone wants him gone, especially other cops.
If there was one disappointment it was that magic was mostly window dressing. There are a few integral scenes where magic plays a roll, and the orc civilization is fairly fleshed out, but we know very little about elves (other than they are rich snobs) and other races are only briefly mentioned or seen in a couple frames standing still.
Overall worth watching, and I hope for a sequel.