Tag Archives: checklist

Make a plan, work the plan

This post poses a conundrum for me, because it could fit into Story Empire, too. It winds up here, because it’s partially about my vacation plans. This one is another stay-cation for me. I want to write and just get some down time.

I’ve gotten to a place in writing where I can get a lot done, and there are a few tricks involved. These take time to farm, but harvesting them really speeds things up. First, I have about six storyboards going at all times. This doesn’t leave me pondering what I might write next. This is a common problem among fiction writers. Think of this like a farm, because it’s a long term project. Some boards are complete, others are partially complete, and some are just a collection of loose notes on index cards. Whenever a decent idea hits me, I make an index card and add it to the appropriate board. (Or start a new one.) Today, when I finish one project, I can dive right into the next one.

Next is my Pinterest app. I don’t know too many authors who use Pinterest, because all of the focus is on promotion. I don’t tend to use it like that. I have character boards, setting boards, and more specific ones like Pirates, or The Hat. When I surf through them, I get a lot of inspiration for my stories. It’s nice to refer to when describing a visual aspect of a tale.

Third is my new concept of more than one story at a time. I’m learning that it’s possible, and super productive. My current theory is to make them very different stories. Character traits don’t seem to bleed over this way, and character arcs don’t get muddled because the stories are so different.

My vacation starts tomorrow, and won’t return me to the office until next Thursday. Now I need some kind of plan.

  • I need to cut down a significant portion of my peach tree. This isn’t productive on the writing front, but works well on the staying married front.
  • Hauling the tree residue away has to be part of this mix, and is a chore in itself.
  • I need to buy and read one book. This one is a short read, and ought to work well for me. Then there are reviews to post on multiple fronts, too. Copy and paste helps here.
  • HMS Lanternfish hasn’t even set sail yet. It’s time to stock her with pirates and supplies, then hit the open sea. I’d love to get 30,000 words down, but 20K might be more realistic.
  • I need to get some blog posts written for The Viral Blues. It will be release time before I know it, and I want to be ready. Might hit up some of my favorite hosts to check their availability during my break, too.
  • There is a loose plan for some group promo at Story Empire. I need to dedicate some thought to that, and see what kind of posts I might need.
  • I have the formatted manuscript for Viral Blues in hand. I need to check it on every program I have. Stories about Lizzie and the hat have a few silly graphics as part of the shtick. These can be a nightmare formatting wise. Again, I want to be ready. I won’t know for sure until I push it through Amazon’s machinery, but any errors I can identify now will make that part easier.
  • Blurb writing. (La la la. I can’t hear you.)

I’m probably leaving stuff out, but that’s how it goes sometimes. I’m hoping to take full advantage of the Halloween season for Viral Blues. I’m still waiting on a couple of Lisa Burton promo posters, and should have the last ones in time. This means the easy link for The Yak Guy Project will be replaced by one for Viral Blues. If you haven’t read Yak Guy, all you have to do is click that cover image in the sidebar. He’ll live forever on Amazon, but you’ll have to go looking for him.

I’m still considering a pre-release for Viral Blues. My results with these have been mixed. What is the current consensus with you guys? Do pre-release books gain your attention, or just annoy you?


Filed under Blogging, Writing

Assessing my effort so far

On Friday night I posted a list of things I want to accomplish before returning to the paycheck job on Tuesday. I think I’m doing a pretty good job of things so far. Let’s take a look at the list, and I’ll scratch things off to indicate what I’ve been doing.

The checklist:

  • Take life as it comes, including another date night and puppy play
  • Work on short stories
  • Read all my Macabre Macaroni stories, edit as needed
  • Publish my second Experimental Notebook (mostly)
  • Work on any Lisa Burton Radio stuff that comes back in the mail
  • Go through my critiques and make changes to The Yak Guy Project
  • Read one book, start another
  • Blog

I got a bunch of writing done yesterday, so I completely ignored that today. It was hard, because it’s what I want to be doing. Mom always said you have to finish your Brussels sprouts before you can have dessert. It’s kind of like that.

Otto and I played a bunch. He’s teething right now, and looks kind of like a wild boar with tusks in the bottom jaw only. The top canines are coming in fast though and his rawhide toys were pretty popular today.

I put in some work on future Lisa Burton Radio interviews. Those are all in the mail, finished, or awaiting final approval. I still have to schedule this week’s post via WordPress. Maybe I’ll do that after this posts. I love the scheduler option for these.

I finished my reading project, but didn’t get around to starting the next one. I have a book of short stories next by one of the regulars here. I want to read another one by a friend after that. Short fiction is one of my favorites and I’m kind of excited about both of them. Sue and Nicholas, I’m talking about you.

I probably screwed up on the publishing front. I wanted to do a short pre-sale for The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack II. When I pushed everything through the mill it asked when I wanted to book to deliver. It never asked me when I wanted the pre-sale to start. I wouldn’t be surprised if I have to write a panic post tomorrow because the pre-sale already started. If that’s what happens, I’ll have to own it like I planned it, but readers of this blog will know the truth. Maybe I can blame everything on my assistant.

Some of the items on my list are ongoing, like blogging and working on the short stories. Tomorrow I’ll save the Macabre Macaroni stories for break times. It may seem odd, but reading and tweaking seems to use a different part of the brain than drafting new material does. At least it does for me.

I’m going to focus on the short stories in The Enhanced League. I may crack into the short stories I want to read too.

Then again, I may not do any of that. I may have to write a panic post about the release of my new book. If that shows up in my timeline tomorrow, you can all have a laugh at my expense. I really wanted to start on the 24th, not the 15th. Part of the problem is the lack of time to dedicate. My wife and I have plans that won’t provide another day to do this.

So there you have it. Picking away at my list, and I can do the fun stuff tomorrow. I think I’ll have two of those pumpkin beers tonight, but I doubt they’ll help me sleep. I’ll probably toss and turn all night wondering if Amazon will have my book available tomorrow morning.


Filed under Writing

Check another project off my list

I set my alarm clock for 4:00 AM and flew out to the writing cabin early. I intended to finish this short story by hook or by crook.

Lisa monitors my gyrocopter, and the lights were on at the cabin as I made my approach. I touched down and maneuvered onto the elevator that goes to the basement.

The smell of fresh coffee almost made me drool as I climbed the inside stairs. Lisa is the best assistant.

The rocket pack sat on the coffee table in my office, beside the fishbowl style helmet. My story couldn’t end until this thing flew one more time.

Clacking came downstairs from Lisa’s rooms. She wore her leather flight jacket, a body shirt, and a pair of thigh high boots that still needed zipped up. She leaned against the wingback chair and wrapped her hair into a bun.

She stomped each boot before zipping it up tight. “I think you’ve been stalling. This story doesn’t end until that rocket flys again.”

“It’s damaged, are you sure about this.”

She only gave one slow nod in answer, grabbed her helmet and balanced it on her hip.

“I’ll carry your rocket down.”

“No. You need to watch from the back porch. Take lots of notes. I’ll bring myself up on the elevator.”

I carried my coffee to the back porch. The freezing temperature made the fog rise from my cup. The first rays of sunlight punched through the trees and lit the runway in a surreal glow of fog and sun.

The machinery of the elevator engaged, and the door slid open revealing blackness in the basement. Tiny horizontal swirls of ground fog marked the moving of machinery. A mechanical clunk and the motor preceded her arrival.

I swear the moment required orchestral music and tympani. She looked so small on the flight elevator coming out of the darkness.

As she rose to the surface, the sun backlit her strawberry blonde hair. She put her helmet on, and clicked it into place. She already wore the rocket pack that would send her into the heavens.

She looked different somehow, more confident, stronger. No polka dots and pencil skirts, today Lisa was all business. I admit to having a tear in my eye, a combination of pride and concern.

“How you reading me, Boss?” I jumped at the hand radio she’d placed out ahead of time. Lisa thinks of everything.

“Five by Five.”

She snapped to the right and marched out onto the landing strip away from the elevator and cabin. The rising sun provided God’s own spotlight down to her knees. She gave me her best fist over the heart salute.

It’s been our thing since I wrote The Cock of the South. I returned the salute and she pointed at the sky with her right hand. When her arm came down, she hit the button on her crossed harnesses.

Fire lit up the meadow.

Smoke curled off the runway obscuring my vision. It rose higher than the cabin. Higher than the trees.

The noise of jet wash deafened me.

I looked frantically for the fire extinguisher. I couldn’t lose her after all we’ve been through.

Lisa rose on a pillar of flame against the blue black morning sky. Tears streamed down my face as she rose ever higher. At approximately two thousand feet, she trimmed her engine, and gained speed. Like a fiery arrow, she flashed across the morning sky until she faded out of sight.

I went to my knees, happy she didn’t explode, and dumbfounded by the sheer beauty of it all until I spilled coffee across my frozen wrist.

“This is Lisa Burton. Lisa to Writing Cabin, do you hear me?”

I keyed the radio. “I hear you. Are you alright?”

“I’m fabulous. You should see things from up here. It’s absolutely beautiful. I’ll try to bounce a signal off a satellite so you can stay with me.”

“Roger that. It looks like the repairs were a success.”

“Was there ever any doubt?”

“Yeah, a little.”

“Sometimes you have to launch anyway. Hey, you could use that for Yak Guy.”

“I’ll write the books around here. Better come home now.”

“No way. It’s weightless and beautiful up here. I’m making a couple of orbits while I have the chance. Since you write the books, why don’t you write the big launch scene just the way it looked this morning.”

“Roger that, and Lisa?”


“Enjoy yourself. You’ve earned it.”

Note: Lisa Burton is the most capable robotic assistant I know. I couldn’t have written this short story without her. I’m now calling it The Last Flight of the Rocket Men. Writing it in first person from the viewpoint of the rocket man was a bit of a challenge, but it’s now a complete draft.


Filed under Muse

Story Length, again

I know I've written about this before, but it's been over a year. I spent a large part of my morning trying to knock one big item off my list. I'd like to finish the retro science fiction story.

I added thousands of words to this thing, and it still isn't finished. I'm a believer in making things as long as they need to be. Many of the rules regarding preferred story lengths went out the window with the arrival of the ebook.

The rules as I understand them are:

  • Micro-fiction = under 1000 words
  • Short story = 1000 to 10,000 words
  • Novella = 10,000 to 30,000 words
  • Novel = over 30,000, but preferred over 80,000 words.

(That leaves a grey area between 30,000 and 80,000 words. Is it a maxi-novella or a mini-novel?)

Does any of this matter these days? We still need to put a label on our work so shoppers know what we're selling. If I ask $3.99 for a piece of micro-fiction the shopper might be disappointed, even if it's really good.

I am firmly convinced that readers are moving toward shorter lengths. It isn't the price of the book, it's the time involved in reading it. I've even noticed it when asking for volunteers. Experimental Notebook got more volunteers than The Playground. Notebook is a book of micros and short stories, Playground is a novel.

So here I am with the retro science fiction story at 8600 words. I don't know if I can bring it in under 10,000. I made a mistake by having a character outline the big plan, then they execute the big plan. In a short story, outlining it should be deleted. In a novel, the big plan should fall apart and have to be modified on the fly. I will adjust accordingly. First I need to finish the damned thing. Edit later.

I already have the pregame shows on. I sliced up some cheese to have with salami and crackers, and ate a tin of smoked oysters along with the rest. I probably won't eat again today, but may have a brown ale nightcap after the game. Better for my digestion to eat early.

I never checked anything off the list, and I feel terrible. I really tried to finish this short story. I know I could if it weren't Super Bowl Sunday. I looked back at my list, and there is a reminder to have some fun along the way. I'm going to honor that part and watch the big game.

I posted another clever graphic and a plea on Twitter to market Notebook. Facebook vexes me. I went ahead and posted about Lisa's paper dolls, and it was barely noticed. I suppose I need more likes or friends, then maybe it will get more attention. I reserve the right to post about it again at a later date. Maybe they would be better received in one of the groups. I remain open to suggestions on the Facebook front.

I succeeded at messing with Facebook, and updating my blog a few more times. Those were on the list. Everything else still needs work, and I'm chocking this day up as a loser productively. It isn't the number of words, there were lots of words, it's the lack of completion.

Questions for you: Should I even care about titles for story lengths? Should I croak the retro science fiction story as part of another Experimental Notebook, because it's too long? Would it be better used as a permanently free novella? Would you skip the Super Bowl to work on your checklist if your team wasn't in it? (Keep in mind that I'm completely alone today, and have no distractions.) Should I bag the whole process and get back to my beta reading?



Filed under Writing

The checklist so far

I spent the first 90 minutes of my day being a good blog citizen. I follow a ton of blogs now. I manage to browse most of them, and deeply read many of them. I manage to like many posts, and make the occasional comment.

I wrote a fair post about my novel, Wild Concept. It received quite a few likes, and several comments. Two people helped spread the word via reblog and Twitter. I’ll make a better acknowledgement later.

I’m at Old Chicago right now after one Guinness and working on a Harp. I don’t have the ability to link my friends on this cell phone.

I got as far as the wood chipper instruction book, but that’s about as far as it went.

I got all my critique stuff finished. I’m ready for you guys next Friday.

I managed to play with my fountain pen for a page or two. It skips a bit, but the more I use it, the better it gets.

Movie times are inconvenient, and we may not accomplish that this weekend.

I wanted to get this out before I down my four beers. Dinner’s here and I need to close.


Filed under Blogging, Writing