I never really had a plan for today. Last night was payday so I paid the bills. I also ordered cover art for Once Upon a Time in the Swamp. There are so many new publications right now I’m hoping May will be a good time for a release.
I started a new project involving my space trilogy. It only came to about two pages, but I’m still getting reacquainted with the characters. They need to go on a quest into unclaimed territory and it’s a little different than the civilized parts of the galaxy.
I scheduled the third part of my creature creation series for Story Empire. It will go live later this month and involves those creatures who may be a little more like us. Those that need some culture and societal background to them.
Then I hacked out a bit of a post for Story Empire for sometime down the road. I like to get a few notes down early, because I occasionally struggle for ideas over there.
I also started reading a book of short stories and got three of those under my belt. Good stuff, but I have to balance this stuff out with everything else. I love short fiction for this reason.
Later today we’re taking my truck in for regular service, then I promised Old What’s Her Face we could have date night. It looks like I’m not going to kill it with word count, but it all counts as progress. As far as date night and trucks, that counts in a different way. Might manage a few more words tomorrow.
This is it for my big vacation. Back to the office tomorrow to see how far behind I am. At least it was during the holidays, so it might not be so bad.
One of the things I really enjoyed was being a more frequent blogger. I like chatting with you guys and it’s a shame the workaday world changed my schedule so dramatically. I’ll probably be back to a weekly post in no time.
I added a ton of words to my remaining WIP. Today, Mari finally made it home to discover squatters on her farm. I’m this close to finishing this project, but it will have to wait until a weekend or two.
I scheduled my next Story Empire post for later this month. I managed to milk three posts from this topic and I hope you check out my Creature Feature posts.
I also hacked out and scheduled my 2023 business plan post. That one should go live sometime on Wednesday. I’ll handle comments before the commute, but won’t get back around to them until after work.
There are three books of edits, rereads, and modifications ahead of me now. Once this tale is finished, it might be months before I tackle a new draft.
I accomplished a lot during my time off. I managed a short but wonderful visit with my daughter. I took a brief nap nearly every day. We binge watched some good stuff on the streaming channels, and it’s hard to stop at this point.
Still, the actual paycheck covers the bills and it’s time to return to that world.
It wasn’t exactly my goal today not to write new fiction. It just kind of turned out like that.
I wanted to rough out a few posts for the Story Empire site. I had a couple of ideas to get down before I forgot about them. I wound up completing all three ideas, then scheduled the first one.
I’m still not convinced I took the best approach to relaying my concepts, but I have a month before the first post goes live. It’s not unheard of for me to edit a few times after something is scheduled.
I opened up the MS for my Lizzie and the hat story, and wanted to work out a couple of timing and plot issues with it. I might have added 100 words before my daughter walked in.
I was told she was coming today, but had forgotten. She had a few errands to address over here. This led to us chatting and before we finished Old What’s Her Face walked in from work.
Today was almost a complete loss. If you count blogging, it wasn’t. I roughed out three Story Empire posts and wrote this one, too.
There isn’t much to be positive about anywhere around me, so I’m going to declare today a win.
Sundays usually aren’t good fiction days, but I might give it a go. Getting to visit with my daughter also counts, so I’m trying to look on the bright side here.
I have a theory that losing my flex day is going to make every lost day that much more important. Still assessing on that front.
I was going to write this like a Writing Cabin post, but there’s more to it than that allows.
I don’t often talk about it, but the way I work involves planning out multiple stories in my head, sometimes years before I can start writing them. When I surf the Internet, it’s usually with a purpose. Sometimes I add things to my Pinterest boards that I won’t need for years. If you look at The Hat board you’ll see things that haven’t been in any of the books, but will be at some point.
I was searching for a magical virus or something with the idea of providing a bit of humor to a future Hat story. One of the characters who gets introduced in Good Liniment is somewhat destined to become Lizzie’s friend. She’s a younger witch with plant based magic named Joyeux.
Randomly thinking it might be fun for Lizzie to come down with something stupid that Joyeux has to help her with. No plot, nothing that major. Then I stumbled upon something called Jumping Frenchmen of Maine. It’s a real disorder from the 1800s. I have a story roughed out involving St. Vitus’ Dance, and while this isn’t the same thing, it’s close enough to explain a magical antagonist’s arrival in North America. I might not ever write that story, but it was an interesting discovery.
PS: Do enough people know what a dibble is for me to make it a magical artifact from Joyeux’s past? Would I have to explain it with some depth?
Other than that, I added about 1200 to the nameless space trilogy. I had to physically weave between the boxes that have invaded the only private space I have, but it feels productive. It’s like writing inside a kid’s blanket fort in here.
I have a major concern about these words. Percy and Buffer have a shared history. They’ve been together since before the story opened as veterans who served aboard the same ship. They’re both disabled veterans now, and helped each other through the rough times.
I’ve done pretty well at keeping the situation flirty between them. Made simple enough because she’s a human and he’s a Space Chimp. Today, they put all their cards on the table and this poses multiple problems for me.
First, I’m not a romance author. I don’t seem to have that gene, but these aren’t romantic characters either. Am I crazy for even attempting this?
Second, I did this at 70,000 words. It’s not insta-love, but is it too soon if I can make this a trilogy? Would I be better served milking it until the last volume? It accomplishes a major step toward Percy’s evolution or character arc.
I also set this up with some backstory of how they became disabled veterans in the first place. I know we’re all supposed to hate backstory, but it feels really good where I plopped it. It’s an interesting tale, and it’s not in chapter one. It’s at 70K. I don’t feel bad about it at all here.
I need to come up with something new for Story Empire. Now that my Easter Egg post is live, it won’t take long for my turn to come around again. I have something roughed out, but I’m not sure I like it. What I really need is another series of some kind, like the one I posted about the Hero’s Journey. Maybe I can edit what I have into something presentable.
I’ll probably make a couple of editing passes on the nameless story, and look over the future SE post the same way.
I really need to come up with a title, but I want something reflective across the broader trilogy. I would like something like “Of X & Y,” where X & Y are variables across all three books. “Of Clay Pots & Clones” doesn’t quite sound right to me. Is that a catchy title for the first book? I’m at a loss here. “Of Spies & Clones” ??? One of you authors or big-time readers let me know if you would check the blurb on a title like this. The cover art will sell it as science fiction.
Let’s start with the good stuff and updates. I’m seeing some sales for Good Liniment, and I hope everyone is enjoying it. There are even some pages read for Wreck of the Lanternfish. Glad I figured out it wasn’t on Kindle Unlimited. Probably cost me some sales, but it works now.
Whatever disgusting plague I had seems to be over now. I ate the equivalent of one meal over a period of a week, just so I could get up every morning to see how I felt before calling in sick. On Friday, I made it to work, but didn’t accomplish much beyond the backlog of crap. Forge ahead on Monday.
I even skipped my corned beef in exchange for two of the golf ball sized red potatoes that are part of the meal. Once I got home Friday night, I remedied that. Rumor is corned beef hash for breakfast tomorrow.
I spent a little time updating my blog. The new cover is linked in the sidebar now. I finally got it onto Goodreads, too. Just all those fiddly things that have to get finished.
I even managed to spend some time with Percy the Space Chimp today. I didn’t keep track, but it was slow going. No more than 1000 words or so. Finished a chapter at least.
That was when it was time to address the new problems. Roommate issues in Sun Valley caused our daughter to take a leave of absence, then move back to Boise. We rented her a U-Haul, then spent the afternoon unloading it here and lugging things upstairs. I also have some of her crap in my office, which is going to get more use with more people here. I left myself a path to my chair and put my headphones on charge. I’m having water now, and a preemptive Aleve.
I’ve been calendaring and sending out blog tour posts sporadically. I can only keep up with about two per week. My days of hitting multiple sites per day, or five days per week are over. I’ll keep pecking away at that, but I have all my volunteers lined up.
Our daughter’s plan is to look for a place back in her area and keep her job. Real estate in Sun Valley is ridiculous, so that dream might die hard. Fingers crossed for her, but there are a lot of jobs around here that pay as much or more than she currently makes. Some of them are even at our airport.
Jackson the cat is back, and I kind of like him.
Tomorrow is likely to be busy and noisy around here, so I don’t think much more will get done on the author front. Hope all of you have having fun somewhere, or being productive as you choose.
I’m in a phase where I need to get Lanternfish ready to publish. If everything goes according to plan, that will be in November. I’m also pushing Good Liniment for sometime this winter.
In the mean time, I need to write about nine blog posts. I have two of them. I also need a good topic for Story Empire. I feel like I’m getting close to an idea, but it needs more work.
Reading and writing have to go out the window this weekend. As soon as I finish all that, I need to be thinking about some way of promoting Lanternfish and how that’s going to look.
November seems like a long ways away, but it will be here before I know it.
Old What’s Her Face and I had date night early this evening. We went to the fair and ate food that’s bad for us. It isn’t as hot as most years, but involves a lot of walking to even get out of the parking lot. I took a few photos and can share those.
Pumpkins seem like they’re off a couple of hundred pounds this year. I still like to see them. I’m an Autumn kind of guy and it makes me look forward to the season.
This one is a different variety. They’re flatter and have deeper grooves in them. I really need to look up the name. This is because I have a character who has something like this for a head in a future story. Not a main character, but it’s nice to be accurate whenever possible.
This one is also a pumpkin. I have no reason to share it other than it’s weird enough that some of you might be interested. Looks like it’s covered with peanut shells.
Lots of cute floppy bunnies.
Many varieties of chickens.
And one golden pheasant.
Basically we each grabbed a prickly pear lemonade to walk around with, scoped out the food vendors, then walked through the exhibits. We didn’t even look for the pigs and such this year.
I ate a(n) gyro as big as my head, and we split a bag of churros. That’s about it. The concerts are lousy this year, and we aren’t carnival age any more.
Gyro poses an interesting question. Since it’s pronounced eero, I prefer to put “an” before it. Since it’s spelled with a consonant, it looks like it should be an “a.” It’s a blog post, so who cares. I’ll be careful not to put them in any of my fiction.
Look at me, blogging on a Wednesday again. I had a productive flex day today.
I started out by working on chapters from two different complete manuscripts. A little here, and a little there, and they’re all getting done.
One of those involved sending a chapter out for critique, which is awesome. I learn so much by having other eyes glance at my material. It also makes it better for human consumption.
I decided to read three more chapters of a book. I don’t normally do that, but have kind of a secret weapon at my disposal now.
Speaking of the secret weapon, I also wrote and scheduled a blog post for Story Empire about it. It won’t come up until the 25th, but if I discover more about it, I have time to update the post.
I also rewrote about three existing chapters of my side project. I fell into the trap of giving things away too soon. I wanted to ramp up some mild tension, and if it’s going to be a trilogy I have time to do it right. They already existed, so it wasn’t like starting from scratch.
It probably needs even more tension in one part, but I’m struggling how to keep something secret and have a character act suspicious at the same time. I have time to figure it out.
I also added words to the side project, and it helped by introducing some new elements to be secretive about. Then there was a fun section that I’m pretty happy with.
I’m struggling with style for this new story. I have one character that wants to come across a bit too formal. Maybe this is from writing Serang for all those years. I keep going back and adding contractions, and softening her presentations.
Aliens are also a struggle. Creating alien species is not all that simple. Pretty much everything has been done unless you get into weird things that can’t communicate or interact.
I spent too much time with Google and Google translate trying to make up my own derogatory term. Eventually, I went with the classic. It can serve as a place-marker, or it might stay that way for good. I’m not overly fond of the word, but it does have impact.
I also have this thing lately for naked women in a couple of different tales. It’s intended to have an effect on the men around them, because the women don’t seem to care all that much. I don’t know that it’s exactly coming across that way. I’m not worried about it in Good Liniment, but might have to experiment more in this side project. It still needs a name, but I hope something will come along as I write it.
It looks like that time again. I try to prepare a business plan for my writing career every January. These have been some of my most popular posts over the years, but that isn’t why I write them. I feel like everything is better with a little planning.
I’m sure this is no surprise, since I’ve posted both here and at Story Empire about my storyboarding method for plotting out my stories.
Mostly, I write these to keep myself honest. I refer back to them throughout the year to see how I’m doing. Let’s dive into it.
A few years ago, I decided my best promotional move was to write my next book. I’ve gotten discouraged with advertising that fails to produce, social media that sucks time, but doesn’t seem to do much else, so I write.
Honestly, it seems to be working. I can’t explain it exactly, but if someone were to pull up my Amazon page, it appears that I’m somewhat seasoned and in it for the long haul. Perhaps people are more willing to take a chance on me more than someone who only has one book. No idea, but it makes some sense.
It’s not that readers pick up everything I write. If someone likes paranormal tales, I have a few. Same thing for science fiction and fantasy. Some are like me and read all those genres, but I can appeal to the specialists now, too.
For the last two years, I’ve published three books per year. It’s kind of a grueling pace, but it was worth it.
This year, my goal is two publications. I want to complete my Lanternfish trilogy and get it out the door. I’ve already started on the final volume, but it’s been slow going. Too many holidays and not enough quality time.
The other book I’m working on is a continuation of The Hat series. Since this is an ongoing series, I don’t feel as much pressure as I do with Lanternfish. I have a couple of storyboards for volumes beyond the one I’m writing, and a few solid ideas with notes started.
Last year, a couple of things changed for me, and forced me to make a decision. My cover art and Lisa Burton promotional pieces took much longer than I was used to. I kind of overwhelmed my critique group, too. My choices were to start another project while I waited to publish the completed ones, or take a break. I took a break.
I know this doesn’t seem like me, but I needed it and I imagine my critique partners appreciated the few months off, too. I didn’t exactly kick back during this time. I spent it getting ready for two extensive blog tours. I make all my promo stops unique, so writing ahead was a good idea.
Timing of publications continues to vex me. I would like to hit one right before school lets out in the Spring, and the other around Halloween sometime. I’m not sure I’ve ever hit the Springtime target before, but have been moderately successful in the Fall.
By publishing two books instead of three, maybe that will simplify a few things. Maybe not, because Grinders in late Winter went off without a hitch.
I intend to use any spare time I have drafting something new. I don’t know what that will be yet, but I could go on the African adventure, maybe the post apocalyptic piece that’s set in the swamp, or something set in outer space. That last one seems to want to be a trilogy again.
The idea of another trilogy kind of drags me down, and excites me at the same time. For one thing, I could do things differently this time. I could hold the entire thing back while I finish it, then go for quicker releases after it’s finished. This would make it my side project for a couple of years.
Lanternfish was only intended to be a stand-alone story. Comments and feedback convinced me to turn it into a trilogy. With one already on Amazon, the others have to come along as they can.
I need to make some decisions on how to promote Wreck of the Lanternfish. I could promote the book, the whole series, or a bit of both. I could go on two different blog tours; one for the book, then months later for the whole trilogy.
I might be able to use some discount days or free days to promote with, too. James is clearly the main character, but Serang has become a co-main character along the way. Her origin story has never been on sale and walks readers into the trilogy. I could do something similar with Voyage of the Lanternfish, or both.
Promotion is like dowsing to me. I’m open to suggestions here, so don’t be afraid to speak up.
Last year, my blogging goal was to post two to three times per week. This came after years of posting four times per week, because Lisa Burton Radio was always on Thursdays. With retirement of Lisa’s show, it should have been easy to meet. I failed completely.
This is the one thing I will blame on Covid. Many of my posts are a slice of life. With all the lockdowns, working from home, and all the rest, there wasn’t much life to share. I’ve been lucky to make a weekend post for the last few months. I don’t know if this will change, so I’m not setting a goal here. I will keep updating Entertaining Stories, and meet my Story Empire assignments. Anything beyond that will have to be an extra.
Then there is social media. During my summer break, I kind of bailed on it. It never really has produced anything for me, and I spent some time changing out my pinned tweets and all the rest. I changed it almost weekly when I promoted the Experimental Notebooks. My blog automatically feeds to most of them, and I still share all of your things when I can. I just stopped actively participating.
Prior to my break, I used to go through my feed and retweet all of your posts, share the bigger things on Facebook, etc. Now it’s mostly posts from your blogs.
Older rules were that we had to be active on social media, because that’s where readers find us. It made perfect sense, but I never really saw it function in real-time. Interest in blogs seems to be slowing down, too, but it’s about all I have left. It also seems to be the only thing that will sell books from time to time, so I’m all-in here.
My goals aren’t as severe this year. Two publications that I already have partial manuscripts for. Keep the blogs up, and dabble in social media. Spend any spare time drafting something new.
Weigh in today. Teach me your promotional tricks. Do you prepare a business plan every year, or is that just me?
They say all posts perform better with a picture, so here you go. Frankie likes to help Mom make the bed, particularly when the bedding is warm from the dryer.
Well, here we are. We all know what this year was about. Political strife, a global pandemic, and seeing humanity at its worst, with glimpses of us at our best.
With the Christmas holiday, I kind of checked out. We went to our son’s and spent time with the grandkids. Our daughter was here for Christmas dinner, and we’ve been watching movies. I enjoyed myself, despite the restrictions we all face.
This is supposed to be about my annual assessment, so I’d better get on with it. Some of you are probably expecting some doom and gloom, and nobody will blame you, but that’s not how I see my year.
It all started out with such promise. 2020 was the Year of the Rat. I was born on the Year of the Rat. My first publication came out on Chinese New Year, and it features a couple of rats and the parade in San Francisco. It seemed like the table was all set.
Grinders did okay. It has some great reviews, but could use some more. Reviews seem to be harder to come by these days. I think it’s some of my best work and would like to get it to a few more readers.
Performance and reviews are kind of going to be the subject for a few paragraphs. I had an ambitious schedule and succeeded in publishing three books. The next two were continuations of series, which is something new to me.
HMS Lanternfish is book two of a trilogy. It sets up some things that will happen in the final volume, which I’m writing currently. I don’t know what it means, but HMS Lanternfish has less than half the number of reviews than Voyage of the Lanternfish.
I know Voyage has been available for a year longer, so that makes some sense. I also know that it’s a small dataset. Hard to draw conclusions with those kind of numbers.
Rumor has it that with trilogies sometimes the sales pick up after the whole trilogy is available. Some readers have been burned by authors who never finished the job. I understand that, but am working on the concluding tale.
Then there is the Ballad of Mrs. Molony. This is the third entry into the world of Lizzie and the hat. These have all been well received, but nowhere near as popular as the original volume. This is my open ended series, and I intend to keep it going for a few more years. I’m also currently working on volume four of this series.
It’s important to remember that reviews aren’t the same thing as sales. Most books sell more than what they garner in reviews and mine are no exception.
I also took most of the summer off. Three publications per year, for two consecutive years, got kind of draining.
I wanted to post at Entertaining Stories somewhere between two and three times per week. The year started off that way, but in the last month or so I’m lucky to get one weekend post put up.
I will blame some of this on Covid. My blog includes a slice of life along with the antics of Lisa Burton, or my word metrics updates. With Covid, there hasn’t been much of a life at all, let alone a slice worth sharing with the world.
Another excuse is also blog tour fatigue. When promoting three publications, there are a lot of blog tour posts. They fatigue me, and my readers. I keep every post unique, so they’re worth reading, and that is a bit draining.
The Story Empire blog is another pet project. I kept my end of the bargain and covered all my assigned days. I write this every year, but I’m wondering how much more I have to offer over there. I love helping others, and will keep chipping away at it. There comes a point where I have to rewrite and repackage some of my content. New writers are always showing up, so it kind of works. I already have my first January post written and scheduled.
To wrap all this up, I think 2020 was successful. There was a lot to overcome, and we’re all still dealing with it. However, I published three books, interacted with many of you, and met all my goals. In a different year, I might whine a little about low success, but in 2020 I’ll take it.
Once 2021 arrives, I’ll trot out a business plan and we can all converse about that.
Old What’s Her Face just called from the freeway. She went to Nevada to visit her brother for the weekend. There is a huge construction delay just outside Boise, but she’s nearly home.
Normally, this would be great writing time for me, but I’ve sworn off of new words for a while longer. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been working.
I have a bit of a conundrum involving the publication of my next book. I want to announce it as part of a larger promo on October first. To do that, I need an actual purchase link. I’m off on Wednesday next week, but that’s September 30th. It sounds perfect, but Amazon doesn’t play that way. They can have up to a 72 hour lag time to put a book on their shelves.
This left me no choice but to publish it this afternoon. I need to guarantee the book’s availability on October first. It could be available when you read this, or it could take a day or two. Out of my control.
If nothing else, it allows me to concentrate on lining up some hosts to take this one out on tour. It’s called The Ballad of Mrs. Molony, and it’s a new caper for Lizzie and The Hat. Just in time for the Halloween season.
I also managed to write and schedule my next post on Story Empire. I thought I had a week, but I checked and it’s all set. Then I scheduled one post for this site on September 30th. Aside from that, I changed the wallpaper to something more Halloween related and updated my banner in anticipation of the new book release.
Beyond that, I finished binge watching a show called The Order. Very CW kind of thing, but fun with witches and werewolves. I also made some heavy progress on reading the anthology I appear in.
Not a bad weekend at all. I made some progress on the author front, got to watch what I want on television, and even functioned as a blogger.
I also ate a bunch of Asian pears and it’s about time to visit the tree again. Hope all of you are staying safe, and had some fun times yourself.