Tag Archives: word count

Bad author! No beer for you.

Today was kind of an odd day. I worked through all the writing chores I could think of. Today is also the day I call my parents, something I do every week. Then my daughter showed up for an hour. She likes to talk about her job and her cat. The dogs are starting to get along with the kitten and it’s kind of cute that he tries to play with them. Otto really is more curious than anything, but he’s kind of indifferent to the whole idea. Frankie concerns me. She’s been pretty good, but she’s gotten slapped more than a few times.

About the time my daughter had to go to work, she put the kitten away, leaving me with the morning phase of the dogs. The morning phase is more calm than the evening phase. I opened the Estivation manuscript and made a light editing pass. Then I added a few words, nothing to really brag about. Something just isn’t working for me yet here. I need to transition the characters from a getting used to the new normal phase to an outright horror phase. I don’t want to jump in too fast, and I just need some more daydreaming time on it. Right now it’s coming across like a recipe card and not an engaging story.

Sooo, I reviewed all my storyboards. Then I created some folders in my word processor. A little time on Google, and I came up with a few names. With names, I created a couple of casts of characters.

Then I wrote 1500 quick words on a new project. File name The Lantern Fish, it will eventually be Something Of The Lantern Fish. It will come to me later.

Lisa Burton

I know, I know. This is bad. It felt so good though. The words flowed pretty well too.

One thing I believe in is finishing the stories I start. I have one (two) chomping at the bit, and Estivation feels like it needs more daydreaming time. I really should force myself to finish Estivation and deal with issues in the editing phase. If I don’t get the length I’m targeting, I can always park it for another Experimental Notebook.

On the other hand, I have worked on one novel and some short stories at the same time. Could a novella work as my side project? I don’t really know, because I haven’t tried before. Short stories and micros, sure.

What do you guys do? I wrote one of my Experimental Notebooks as a side project. The other one was the main project, but there were multiple stories going on at the same time.

I think I can do this by making Estivation my side project.

Here’s where it gets crazy. I have another novel that would also make a great side project. I’m sorely tempted to start it too. This one doesn’t even have a complete storyboard, but I already know all the characters and several situations that have to happen. Then there is that one I may never write, and it has a complete outline.

Winter has always been my best writing time, so I think I have to lay down some rules. Two projects at once might be possible. Four probably aren’t.

Seriously, what do you guys do when this happens? I know some of you write pretty fast, so maybe it’s not an issue to just wait. I’m a weekend warrior and quality writing time is limited. I have to be a little selective as to what I spend that time on.

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Feeling pretty productive

The dogs let me sleep a little today. I even took my time getting started. I did my morning surf through social media and enjoyed my coffee, before opening my WIP and reading what I’d done so far.

After that, the stars just lined up. I was the only human at the house, and while there was some canine intervention, I got do do what I love best. I added new words to The Hat.

Lizzie and the hat bonded, but they bickered all the way. They will never stop bickering, but it’s a lot of fun when they do. They decided to play the 3/4 size upright bass, and that required both of them giving a little. It works to establish the symbiosis they will need to finish their adventure. Some of this required me to go through my phone’s playlist, and I never write with music these days. I didn’t really this time either. I listened to some songs, chose one and paused. Then I wrote about it.

I tried to work the pieces from simple to complicated to show a kind of training sequence and some improvement. I’m not quoting lyrics this time, I did that for Will O’ the Wisp, and chasing the copyright license is more trouble than it’s worth. I think it works without them.

I faked my way through a couple of parts, which is very unusual for me. I like to get it right before I forge ahead. This time, I decided to work outside my comfort zone. I look at my words as placeholders to be modified later. Then I clipped the section and emailed it to my consultant. I included some specific questions, and can make an edit when I hear back.

I know you guys like playlists, so the story includes some Toby Keith, Creedence, Bonnie Raitt, Brian Setzer, Dwight Yoakum, and even Commander Cody. I really liked the line, “We don’t need no stinkin bow.” It feels cliche, so I should try to come up with something better. For this kind of music, the bass isn’t played with a bow.

Lizzie and the hat also got to argue about hat styles, and changes in language. Most of this comes from the hat having spent over twenty years in a box. He missed the start of the electronic age we live in, and that’s been fun too.

Beyond that, I abducted a bunch of children, made it personal, and set Lizzie on the road to unemployment. In this case, stability is very important to the character, of course I had to strip it away. I’m not at that point yet, but the stage is set.

Before Old What’s Her Face got off work, I ended at 7051 words. Not bad for a two day total, and I have tomorrow largely available to write too. I’m into it, and after I talk to my parents, another few thousand words is realistic.

In writer terms, the character intros are over. There was a training event that teased greater things are possible, and the inciting incident went down. It doesn’t quite feel like the end of Act 1, because we haven’t glimpsed the hero that could be. It’s close though. I need to brainstorm the hero that could be part a little.

Drafting new material is my favorite part, and I’m so excited to get back to it. Bonus: I have enough for a couple of months at critique group too, so I’ll stop showing them Yak Guy and see what they think of Lizzie and the hat.

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Partial project day

Today was dedicated to finishing tasks. Some were started, some weren't, and I didn't get all the way through the list.

I need five posts for a promo I'm going to be doing. I still have two left to write, and those that exist need a little something too. Watch this space, and you may find some great deals on my books in the next couple of weeks. I blog about bulldogs, and movies, writing, and all kinds of things, but occasionally I need to mention that I have books to sell. “Hey, I have books to sell.”

The good news is that I don't return to the paycheck job until Tuesday. I have one more day to work on them.

I intended to do some reading today, but failed completely. We went to one of our favorite places last night, then I stayed up late playing video games with my son. Somehow, I forgot to plug in my iPad. No juice = no reading. I used what little juice remained to pay bills today, so I can scratch that off the list.

I dedicated my analog time to working on a critique. My crit group is on life support after several years. We're down to two members remaining, but we're meeting next week anyway. Part of the discussion will be about how to get new members. I don't know too many writers in the Boise area, but I'd really like to keep this going. I get different values from critique and beta readers. I want both.

While recharging, I found a movie. I said yesterday that Skull Island left me a little flat. Today, on cable, I watched Bridge of Spies, with Tom Hanks. This movie gave me more than I expected, and I would watch it again. I knew the story, but seeing it dramatized was well worth it. Great movie.

Tomorrow, I have to get my truck sniff tested. It's an absurd local regulation, but I have to do it. I may check my meds and try getting them refilled while I'm out. I need to write two more promo posts, and I'm going to read come hell or high water.

Next weekend brings the return of company, so no writing. I'm at a point in Yak Guy where I need to decide how much wandering around in the wilderness is acceptable. Too much will bore readers. I could work this toward the end, but it might wind up being a 70K word novel. In this modern era, maybe that is preferable. It's definitely preferable to boring readers with too much star gazing.

Talk to me here. Did you get a different vibe from Skull Island? Have you seen Bridge of Spies? Do you know any Boise area fiction authors who would like to join a critique group? Are you interested in some great book deals in the first week of April? How do you feel about novels on the short side of word count? How in the heck do you guys find time for your reading?

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Not what I expected.

I went to bed last night with visions of finishing The Yak Guy Project. I needed about ten thousand words, and expected to knock it out today. You see, I had a visitor yesterday.

These guys only appear to me about once or twice per year. It's been that way since I was small. Golden Eagles, all the time, but not Bald Eagles. They always herald some version of good luck. It may be a day when I caught the largest fish or some other small item, but it always works.

I had a working lunch with a colleague yesterday. On my way to the restaurant, an eagle flew over my truck. He wasn't close enough to scratch the paint with his talons, but he wasn't much further either.

The fact is I can't force the eagle. He foreshadows luck of some kind, but I can't manipulate it to what I want. I wanted word count, but that isn't why he showed up.

I managed less than a thousand words of fiction today. If you want to see why, you'll have to visit the Entertaining Stories Facebook Page, because they won't let me upload videos here. Not without going through YouTube first. (Hint, it's Otto.)

Have I ever mentioned,”You Can't Always Get What You Want” is one of my favorite songs. It's so true in so many ways.

I know the eagle is telling me something, but have no idea what. Sometimes it amazes me when it happens a week later, but it happens.

Some of you probably think I'm crazy, but when you observe something enough times you start to pay attention.

I managed to be productive in other ways. I wrote some blog posts, with frequent interruptions. I communicated with my Story Empire colleagues about an upcoming project, and we moved it forward.

Something is on my horizon, so I'm kind of excited about that. It could be something small, but it adds a nice perspective to the weekend.

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Unexpectedly Productive Today

My wife and I were supposed to spend the day together. She volunteered to watch the grandkids so their parents could go skiing. They took the kids over the weekend, but I understand that sometimes mom & dad need to do things without the kids too. To my surprise, the babysitting took place at their house, not mine.

Well, now. (Visualize me rubbing my hands together.) I headed for the writing cabin. Lisa* met me in the lobby along with Yak Guy and a smelly Hermit. I waved my hand under my nose.

“I understand,” Lisa said. “I turned off my sensors. You said we were writing him in the winter and it wouldn't matter.”

“Guess I never counted on being indoors during the winter. Are we done with the giant lion?”

“He's out on the patio, just in case.”

I headed out back and went over my last chapter.

“I'm not too happy about having to gorge all that food down, but I'm grateful for the work,” the lion said.

“I needed you to look totally full. I appreciate your dedication.”

“I'm available for rewrites, or even scenery shots if you want.”

“I'll have Lisa stay in touch.”

“I gave her my card, would you like one too?”

I really didn't, but it seemed important to him, so I accepted it.

“Maybe next book you'll need a lion with some dialog. I can do accents too.”

“Good to know. I have to get back to the Hermit now.”

The lion left, and I got to work on the Hermit section. Yak Guy and the Hermit got along fine, but the Hermit's lessons didn't come across well. I decided to go with it. It's almost like when the card is dealt upside down. I decided it was more realistic to a reading that way. Not everyone is going to get through to a student. Yak Guy learned more from some than others, and it just seems more natural to me that way.

When we sewed it up for the day I'd written over 4000 new words. I googled a few things, and discussed them with Lisa. She gets the information as fast or faster than I do.

“I know you've been struggling with this next section,” she said. “What are you going to do?”

“I could drag this out forever. It might involve a secret trip to visit the Research Sirens again, and I know I'm not supposed to do that. I think it's time to make an executive decision.”

“Yeah?”

“Ring up the Hanged Man, and let's get him over here. I'm skipping around for the sake of the story. I really don't feel the need for Justice, and I want the Wheel of Fortune later on.”

“I can have him here tomorrow. Are you okay? I picked up some of that salted caramel cocoa you wanted to try.”

“I'm good with it. I got what I needed to out of the challenge, but I want to deliver a good story too.”

“But you couldn't skip the smelly Hermit guy?”

“I guess that's just how it worked out. Now about that cocoa?”

“I'll get it ready, and fumigate the lobby while the kettle is heating up.”

*Lisa is my personal assistant, and the spokesmodel for Entertaining Stories. She's also a robot and has her own stories.

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That was a little bit different.

Getting any amount of writing done with Otto around is going to be a challenge. It starts out with, “Look at my pumpkin ball.” Then I get out of bed. “Throw my pumpkin ball, squeak my plush moose toy, check out my kong, I have a piece of fluff in my mouth Smack smack smack, you'd better get it before I swallow it. I want out, I want in, oh wait… out again.” Recycle and repeat as necessary.

I bought myself a few minutes by filling his kong with peanut butter. That wasn't distracting at all, “Slurp, smack, slurp…” It was kind of funny, so I posted a tiny video on the Entertaining Stories Facebook page.

I managed to get to the writing cabin later than I liked. Lisa, my robotic assistant, was dressed like an old Olivia Newton John video.

“Are you working out today?” I asked.

“Lorelei is coming over. She wants to exercise, so I looked up what to wear and ordered this outfit. What do you think?”

“Yeah, very cute.”

“Thanks.”

I moved into my office and turned on my iPad. All I really needed was some solitude. Lorelei, my Muse, stormed in wearing some kind of hideous mumu thing. I may have winced a little bit.

“Where is she?” Lorelei asked.

“I don't know, maybe in the front or the kitchen.”

She turned to go, but looked back. “Don't even look at it. I'll be back to Greek Goddess form in no time. Give me a month or so.”

I admit to not writing much over the past few months. Lorelei let herself go in that time. Between a cranky Muse and a robot who's contemplating the afterlife, it's been a little strange around here. It seems like I'm going to have to force my way through this first bout of writing.

I opened up The Yak Guy Project, and re-re-read my last chapter. I wound up correcting some of the language. There is a character that sounds too much like another character, and I'm trying to adjust him a bit.

The next chapter is a transition chapter, and some traveling is involved. I hate those kind because they slog along. It isn't like the characters can pop in and out of interesting situations, and some of these are necessary. I added some scenery and intrigue to my world building and charged forward.

The girls came downstairs, this time Lorelei was in a bodysuit over a leotard. Quite frankly, it looked like it was a little bit stressed. “We decided to go jogging,” Lisa said.

Thank the Gods, I thought.

“You're welcome,” Lorelei said.

They were laughing as they headed away from the cabin. I opened the window for the raven of Doubt. “You too. Get out of here, and lay off Lisa. She doesn't need your mumbo jumbo any more than I do.” To my surprise, he flew off.

Yak Guy Ted got involved with a minor skirmish and saw what happens in war. He even went on a stressful mission of his own that seems to have helped the situation for his people. Remember, he's a spoiled city kid who's been plunked in another world, so this is a big step for him. He just needed the right inspiration. (Spoiler: It's a girl.)

I reached the end of that chapter, and added a first line to the next one. This is the point where I usually force something if I'm really feeling it. I admit to being a little out of writing shape myself. Still, 3100 words of new material isn't a bad day.

I decided to turn to baseball. More specifically, my short stories that I'm calling The Enhanced League. I left a couple of spies in a stadium in Japan that needed to move their story ahead. This one has a little to do with world building, and will have a bit of tension in it too. By the time the girls returned, I added 1500 words to that.

That was about my limit today. As I'm typing this out, I'm alternating words with throwing the ball for Otto. I won't complain about it, because I forged ahead with new fiction. In fact, this post is slightly over 700 words itself.

  • 3100+
  • 1500+
  • 700=

Pretty nice, or at least nothing to sneeze at.

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Visit with me on Sandra Cox’s blog

With us today is C.S. Boyack to talk about his approach to speculative fiction. Welcome, C.S.

Thanks for the invitation today, Sandra. It's always nice to find new places to promote my work. I'm here with something a little bit different today; it's a book of short fiction. Read more here…

 

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