Tag Archives: side project

Side projects and group blogs

I might have mentioned it, but I started a side project a month or so ago. I have a loose idea of a trilogy, and wanted to keep something going.

My plan is to have someplace to dabble whenever I have an hour. I learned some lessons from Lanternfish, and I can wait to publish until the whole thing is complete.

Right now, I have the final Lanternfish coming some time late Fall or early Winter. Good Liniment will follow maybe in February. I have time to fiddle with something while I scheme about promo and other needs.

Right now, the side project is at 22,000 words. This milestone stuck in my mind because of something I’m working on for Story Empire. It’s going to be a series about three act structure. At this length, I’m pretty much through act one.

I decided to assess my own story through the lens of act one. This is a found family kind of story, and all characters are on the table. Without a ton of backstory, readers should know who they are and what makes them tick.

I’m always weak on setting, but feel like readers will understand this is science fiction, and each location will differ to a degree. I have to remind myself to detail each new place, but we haven’t gone there yet.

We haven’t seen the actual bad guys, but witnessed some of their handiwork in the form of a terrorist act. Still debating whether to put a character on site, or let them experience it via news broadcasts. Since it’s a side project, I could go back and change things. It’s pretty clear what the problem is, and what kind of plan my characters have.

Because this is intended to be a trilogy, the plan is more personal. They’ll get exposed to the bigger picture as the story unfolds. They’ll need a different plan. I couldn’t do it quite the same way in a stand-alone.

If I’m missing anything, it has to be the stakes. Important in act one of a stand alone, but I have some wiggle room in a trilogy. They’ll figure it out as they get exposed to a bigger universe.

That’s something to consider for my Story Empire posts. I have four posts planned, but there should be a wrap up, and I might get some Expansion Packs out of the deal. Three act structure isn’t a rigid framework.

I’m already moving into parts of Act Two before I finish Act One. This is how it should work in a book. It’s not quite the same as a stage production. My characters are already dabbling in training and research. We might not get to the stakes for a few more chapters.

Eventually, I’ll start another main project. It will probably be something for Lizzie and the hat. If that doesn’t happen until Winter, that’s fine by me.

In other news, I picked more Asian pears this morning, washed them up, then restocked the refrigerator. They’re so much better this year for some reason. It could be the tree is maturing, might be the extra effort I put into thinning them this Spring. Might even be the extreme summer we had. Either way, I’m eating them for as long as they’re still good.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

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Not a lot to show for this weekend

I try to stay busy, I always do, but sometimes there isn’t a lot to show for my efforts.

It started off with a visit from our daughter. I’m a firm believer that family comes first, so I never tried to do anything until she went home. We had a nice visit, and she even managed to cut my hair while she was here.

Had to deal with a loss of power to the deep freeze. This involved a stupid GFI switch. We didn’t lose anything, but had some things we had to cook PDQ. I discovered it because my beer mugs didn’t get frosty overnight.

Beyond that, it was all “Stuff.” I worked on something for Teri Polen’s Bad Moon Rising, but it isn’t ready yet. I worked all the way to the end of the Lanternfish story. I feel like I caught most things, but I always miss something. Reading it once more might help. I’d like to publish it sometime in November.

I also dedicated some time to Good Liniment. Nothing too earth shattering, but I reworded a few sections prior to sharing it with my critique group. I included a text thread in this section, because Hat stories include dumb things. It looks like they all came across the right way. One never knows when I text my daughter, photograph the screen, upload it to Apple Pages, then leave Apple to share it in Word format. My daughter and I had fun creating the texts.

Then there were graphics. I’m not a graphics guy, but I took a tip from Harmony Kent, then assembled the rest by hand in a graphics program I have. The end results weren’t too bad, and I might use them one day.

Word count, not so much. Certainly less than a thousand words. I’m not feeling any kind of rush on this project, so I’m not going to lament this. It’s supposed to be a side project, and I’m going to treat it that way.

It’s kind of productive, but not in a way I can demonstrate. I think next weekend will be similar. I’m ahead for a change, so I’m not going to beat myself up over it. Eventually, the side project will cause me to start a main project. Lanternfish will come out, and I’ll have to figure out some promo for it. Maybe early next year I’ll release Good Liniment.

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A good flex day

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.

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For my next amazing stunt…

My presentation went well, and my work week ended on a high note. The drive home was uneventful, and the wildlife all but disappeared.

I’m kind of a curmudgeon when it comes to technology. I go all in on things that interest me, but avoid other parts of it. I didn’t want to take the time pairing my phone with the company car, so I made both drives in total silence. When I take my truck, I usually have my Lizzie and The Hat playlist blasting.

Funny thing about those silent drives. This is when Lorelei the Muse joins me and we have great conversations. There is no set path, and we bounce from project to project. I came up with some neat ideas for the post-apocalyptic thing I have partially storyboarded. I have some root monster ideas for the next Lanternfish story, and may have partially solved a geographical problem I discovered. Even Lizzie and The Hat were topics and I have some ideas about them, too.

Old What’s Her Face has to work today, so I had a morning to myself. I spent the time finishing the draft of Grinders. I’m just shy of 77,000 words. I think that’s a good length for a modern-day stand-alone novel. I like the way it came out. Story threads wrapped up, and there is some hope for the future. Even the animals got a half page epilogue to give them some closure.

After the first draft of Grinders, I tried to read all the blogs I missed from my road-trip. I admit to not commenting everywhere, and some of you only got a “like” and a tweet. I’m not even going to try catching up on Twitter.

I’m sure there will be a session of paying those damned bills today. We might even squeeze in a date night of some kind.

I have a loose plan for the future, but am not committing to very much. Grinders needs to go into the fermenter for a while. I’ll probably read everything I have of HMS Lanternfish tomorrow. That will put me back in the right mindset, and help me add words when I get another flex day.

I owe a few people some reads, and may carve out time for that. Part of me wants to start another side project immediately, but it doesn’t feel right. I have a new story about Lizzie and The Hat that could fill that slot. Lanternfish has been patiently at anchor since September, and I need to move that project along. I promised a trilogy, and Serang will only keep people distracted for so long. I must release a Lanternfish story in 2020.

Serang seems to be doing well, but could always use more reviews. I never intended to push her as hard as Viral Blues, but a couple more tour posts wouldn’t hurt. Maybe I’ll dig through my list and see if there’s someone I haven’t bothered in a while to host me. I still have one fresh new Lisa Burton poster I haven’t revealed to anyone. I can use it here, but I like to send her to other sites.

My early thought is Lanternfish can fill the rest of 2019 quite well. I need to think about what kind of cover and artwork I want for Grinders, set the money aside, then contact Sean. If I do this right, it could be out at the end of Winter or early Spring. By only working on Lanternfish, I have time for budgeting, thinking, and planning out my 2020 goals.

I guess my next amazing stunt is to dial it down a bit. Lanternfish lets me keep a hand in, but there are other things on my horizon, too. Winter feels like the right time for this. Do any of you take a step back this time of year?

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