A Sunday check-in, with extra sauce

Craig Hansen, taken by his wife, Andie Hansen

Craig Hansen, taken by his wife, Andie Hansen

Craig Hansen, taken by his wife, Andie Hansen

Well, one week or so in and I already have progress to report.

Remember Goal 1?

1) Finish the rewrite on the short story that started out as a Fogland Project submission, which I decided to re-purpose for my own use.

Well, I finished the rewrite and now have the story out to my regular group of trusted beta-readers. We’ll see how long I have to wait for my feedback and what sort of adjustments that feedback inspires, but for now, I’ll reveal that the name of the project is Rose Valley, and I’m hoping to get that out on Amazon yet this month. Yes, I mean April.

So now I’ve moved on in the interim to Goal 2:

2) Do a revision of EyeCU that pleases me, and get the novel prepped for release in the third quarter of this year. I’m looking at you, August-September!

EyeCU has been a fifty-ton albatross around my neck for well over a year now. I let the idea that a small press publisher was interested in the title play with my mind and got super-insecure about the tale, rather than just letting it be fun storytelling. Then when I was asked for changes that basically would have turned the novel into an entirely different creature, that froze me up completely. Only around the turn of the year did I decide enough was enough. I politely pulled my book out of consideration from the small press, and decided to do a fresh, final draft that pleased me… taking the story back to being the one I wanted to tell, rather than the tale the small press wanted me to tell.

So, while I’ll take some of the helpful advice they offered in the “under consideration” process into account with my revision, I’ve decided that from now on, if anyone wants me to tell a different tale than the one I’ve set out to tell, then I’m not gonna hitch my wagon to their “let’s reinvent every bit of your story until it’s what we want it to be” engine anymore.

EyeCU is a long story any way you cut it. My original take on it was just over 100,000 words. I cut that length into the low 70K range during an attempt to please the small press. I imagine after I complete my own personal pass on it, it’ll arrive somewhere in between that range.

The important thing will be to tighten it up, make sure the action is interesting, and try to avoid lags in the storytelling.

The last year-and-a-half have not been wasted, per se. The feedback I received helped me come up with an opening chapter that will better-communicate the sort of tale EyeCU is, right up front, from the word, “Go.”

But when an editor tells you, “I never liked the title anyway… that was NEVER going to be the title,” I’m sorry, but that brings out a bit of the rebel in me.

EyeCU may not be a perfect title, but this is a tale that found its genesis in a core idea, a plot inversion: Most horror movies tell the tale of an innocent person receiving the haunted eyes of a killer and finding their soul corrupted.

EyeCU flips that idea on its head: it’s the tale of a killer who receives the haunted eyes of an innocent and asks what that person’s nightmares might look like.

That’s the tale I want to tell, and cutting away too much of that plot element means I’m no longer telling the tale I want to tell.

EyeCU has always been a working title. It may not be the title I ultimately launch the book with. But, dag-nabbit, it will remain the tale I set out to tell two-and-a-half years ago. It will be a plot-inversion of the old “haunted eyes” tale. Making it something else? Doesn’t interest me.

So, I’m now beginning in earnest the work of doing a final pass on EyeCU. I’ll then entrust it to some beta-readers and editing I trust. And while I hope to have it complete by the end of this quarter or before, I will wait on launching it… actually publishing it, until probably September for marketing reasons. After all, it is a horror tale, and October is arguably going to be the key month for this particular release.

Back to work. Check-in complete.

ROW80 Goals, Round 2, 2014

Craig Hansen, taken by his wife, Andie Hansen

Craig Hansen, taken by his wife, Andie Hansen

In Round 1 of this year, I kept my goals focused and achievable and had one of the most successful ROW80 sessions I’ve had in a while. I met several of the goals I set, so that was a plus. But now it’s a new round and time for new goals.

Here we go:

1) Finish the rewrite on the short story that started out as a Fogland Project submission, which I decided to re-purpose for my own use.

I needed more space to tell the story I wanted to tell, so I pulled the submission back from Fogland, which has a tight word-count limit. The story that was originally going to be called Rose Court will now be called Rose Valley. What was originally written to “not quite” fit into a three-thousand word limit will now be almost twice as long, but a lot more creatively satisfying for me to publish and feel good about.

2) Do a revision of EyeCU that pleases me, and get the novel prepped for release in the third quarter of this year. I’m looking at you, August-September!

EyeCU is a project that I’ve been working on for over two years now. Initially, I considered submitting it to a small press, but going the traditional route would mean a third year, at least, working on this one project. To grow as I writer, I just need to finish this thing and move on to something fresh, so I dropped the small press idea and have decided to move forward on my own. I just need to get new titles out there, under my own name.

3) Make significant progress on HOPE LESS, my Wayward Pines / KindleWorlds novella.

I think this could be a title that draws more attention to my other work, and I admire Blake Crouch’s work, so this seems like a smart project to pursue. It’s something fresh.

I’ve had several other concepts floating around in my head, too, and I’d like to get to them. But the only way to do that is to tackle these three goals in the second quarter, so I can begin to push some titles out of the nest and start hatching a new batch.

That’s what I’m working on for second quarter. Three goals seems achievable. Work on Ember probably won’t pick up until the second half of the year, but I hope to get to that after I get this out of the way. This year continues to be an emphasis on my own career, rather than an emphasis on my pen-name career, so this follows that theme. Let’s hope I’m right about these goals being achievable.

First check-in for March and Scrivener thoughts

Okay, where were we?

Goal 1, publishing the pen-name novel? Done.

Goal 3, writing and publishing a short? Hope Court is done and I’m waiting to hear back from the Fogland Project before I publish.

Goal 4 I changed from a pen-name project to a project for myself. I am currently in the middle of writing Hope Less for Blake Crouch’s Wayward Pines world on KindleWorld.

And Goal 2 was to get done with revisions already on my oft-delayed nightmare of a project, EyeCU. It’s been like pulling teeth with that one. But I intend to tackle it, for better or worse, as soon as Hope Less is complete. Honest.

Now that that’s out of the way, here are some thoughts and ruminations on other matters:

1) I finally got my CPAP machine, so I’m no longer in danger of dying every time I go to sleep… or, at least, no more so than anyone else. And it’s nice not to be falling asleep at my keyboard all the time. Really helps creativity.

2) I lost my most reliable side-job contract in February and fortunately have been able to cobble together a partnership with Victorine E. Lieske, a fellow indie and a good friend. She does book covers, I do formatting, and together we’re Blue Valley Author Services. We’re not the cheapest, we’re not the most expensive, but we’re extremely professional and can keep your price for our services in the mid-three-figures somewhere, even for our full range of current services.

So if you’re looking to schedule your next book project, we’re pretty busy, but check us out here.

3) After my last check-in, someone requested I talk more about Scrivener soon. And so I will:

The first time I tried Scrivener, it’s long feature list scared me away.

Then, last spring, about a year ago, Amazon.com ran a half-off special on it and I bought it and decided to finally learn the program.

I was helped out by a book called Writing a Novel with Scrivener by David Hewson. The upshot of which made sense to me: learn to write in it first, then worry about what else you can do with it. Sage advice.

So I started out with a test-story, just to get a feel for the program. Then I did a story I was serious about. By the time I finished I decided to transfer all my stories over to it.

It’s different from MS Word and the main first-draft writing program I was using at the time, FocusWriter. But it turned out to be better for me. And I love the distraction-free mode, which looks like this:

Scrivener Full Screen mode, white text on black background.

Ain’t it pretty?

So, that’s the brief version. If anyone wants more details I might delve deeper some other time. If I can think of anything interesting to say about it.

Guest Post: About the McCall Initiative by fellow Portland resident Lisa Nowak

Almost a year and a half ago, while my husband and I were driving to a friend’s house, he told me about a story he’d read in the Portland Mercury. According to the article, fifty years from now much of the United States will be devastated by climate change. The Pacific Northwest will remain relatively unchanged in comparison, which will result in an influx of climate refugees.

“That sounds like a great set up for a dystopian YA novel,” I said. Within minutes, I had the basic premise outlined. The Pacific Northwest, disgruntled over the population boom, secedes from the United States to form its own country with a closed border. Wealthy Americans want to buy their way in, so poor people begin disappearing off the streets. Naturally, I needed a romantic aspect, but I wanted to give it a twist. I decided my protagonist would be a girl whose family had disappeared, and the love interest would be the boy whose family had displaced hers.

Over the coming weeks, the idea grew to include an existing political movement to form a bioregion called Cascadia, Portland’s major league soccer team and its rowdy band of fans, the Timbers Army, and a rock star-turned-activist who becomes the first president of the new nation. My husband, friends, and fellow writers supplied me with myriad excellent ideas and educated me about the subjects of history, politics, computer science, medicine, and soccer.

Several writers I know have been experimenting with serialized stories, and this idea seemed perfect for that venue. I envision it much like a season of a television series. Each short episode gives you part of the story, with the entire plot-line playing out over a nine-book “season.” I currently have the first three episodes published, (you can buy them individually, or as a box set) and the fourth will be released in early March. If you aren’t sure this is for you, fear not. You can try the first episode absolutely free at any of the retailers listed below.

McCall_CVR_SML_LR

What if the Pacific Northwest seceded from the United States? In 2063, it has.

The climate change that’s devastated all but the Northwest corner of the U.S. has been around since before Piper Hall was born. She doesn’t spend much time thinking about it, the secession that created Cascadia, or the closed border, erected to keep out climate refugees. All she wants is to get through high school and earn a medical degree so she can pull her family out of poverty. Piper’s sure her little brother’s stories about poor people vanishing are just rumors-until she comes home to an empty house. Losing her future, her family, and her freedom and forced into hiding, Piper has to find a way to get to the bottom of the disappearances. But the only one who can help might be the very boy whose family has displaced her own.

A pre-Valentine’s check-in

When last we joined the sitcom, “Craig, Interrupted,” he announced that he’s already knocked out goal number one. Has he done anything since then? Like, anything at all?

The answer is yes. Well, mostly yes.

With Goal 1 out of the way, Goal 3 was rewritten from writing an 8-Hour Challenge story to writing a story for possible inclusion in Fogland. I’ve now got the draft written but in need of polishing! Rose Court, as it is tentatively being called for now, is something I completed after being blocked on the final scene for over a week.

Lately, I’ve been getting blocked any time I come close to finishing something. An odd little habit, that. Annoying, too.

And I’ve also rewritten Goal 4 from “Write a new short for my pen name” to “Write a novelette-to-novella-length story, under my own name, for KindleWorlds publication.

I’ve now officially started work on that goal: The project is tentatively called Hope Less and beings a character from my 2011 Young Adult Coming-of-Age novel and sets her down in the much more dark and adult world of Blake Crouch’s Wayward Pines series. I have character notes and such set up in Scrivener and I’ll begin writing soon on that.

So, two goals down, two to go.

I’m taking goal number four first: I want Hope Less to run about 20,000 words and then be done.

After that, it’s on to my final goal, finishing out EyeCU already.

A January check-in

Hey there, everyone. Time for an update from me… and this one is encouraging.

I’ve already completed my first goal for the quarter. Yay! For those of you who don’t recall, that goal was:

1. Finish editing and release my new pseudonym novel.

That was completed by me a bit over a week ago. So at least my pseudonym has something new to brag on. :)

Also, Goal 3 has changed slightly. I said that goal was to complete a new 8-hour challenge story, under my own name. Instead, I’ve decided to work that story to fit into a new concept called Fogland. It will end up a bit too long to even attempt as an 8-Hour Challenge story, anyway. More about that as it develops.

And that story for Goal 3 is currently “in production.” Meaning I have it about half-written.

So, 1.5 goals down, 2.5 goals to go.

That’s the state of my union. ;)

ROW80 2014, Round 1 Goals

Well, new year, new chance to live up to my goals, right?

Challenges facing me this quarter include:

I need to rebuild my side-business. In February, I will be losing my main client for book formatting service and will be going into business for myself with a trusted, 50-50 partner. It’ll be some work getting that off the ground and drawing clients.

I also have some follow-up dental work to get done, even though the worst of it is more or less complete.

And in January, I’ll be scrambling with a lot of paperwork related to my health care. (I have sleep apnea.)

Here’s what I think is reasonable for the first three months (80 days) of 2014.

1. Finish editing and release my new pseudonym novel.

It’s all written, has a cover and cover page, and even is just over 50 percent edited. I self-edit to keep costs on my pseudonym stuff low, which is what helps them make money. Time to get this one out the door.

2. Get serious about progress on the EyeCU rewrites.

It’s just time to get this done.

3. Write at least one “8-Hour Challenge” story under my own name, to keep my name out there.

4. Write at least one new, shorter release for my pseudonym, toward the end of the 80 days.

It’d be nice to talk about “what’s next” of a more significant length, in terms of a project for my own name, but I really don’t think I should until I deal with EyeCU.

So, for now, that’s it.

ROW80 Fourth Quarter goals in review

Hey all,

I forgot to check in at all this quarter, so all I can do now is offer you a review of my last three months. When Q4 began, I stated four simple goals. Let’s review and see how I performed against them.

1) Finish the revisions on EyeCU and get it back to the small-press publisher who’s considering it.

Fail. EyeCU is still very much in revision.

2) I’m challenging myself to publish either two shorts, under my own name. Kinda like I did during the Konrath 8-Hour Challenge, but without all the moral support. I want to do it the same way I did them that time, so I’m gonna refer to them as “a pair of weekend benders.” Short stories that I start on Saturday night and endeavor to publish by Monday.

Fail. I forgot to do this entirely.

3) Finish the short novel I’m writing under my pen name, plus one short that I haven’t started yet. That’d be good progress for my pen name.

Mostly succeeded. The book is written and has a completed cover. It needs some cleanup work done and then it’ll be out there. If I don’t get it up before January 1, I hope to have it out shortly thereafter.

But the short novel became a lot longer… It’s weighing in between 50-55K.

4) Finish two new King David Study lessons before the end of the calendar year. That, you’ll remember, is for my faith-community involvement. But it’s also writing and that takes time, so I’m counting it!

Fail. I have most of the next lesson written … but only in my head, nothing in a Word .doc or anything.

So, I score on 1 out of 4 goals, but with having health issues to deal with (mostly dental, but also qualifying for a CPAP unit due to my sleep apnea), I’m pleased to have at least accomplished that much. Also, my day-job status is changing, so that’s been a stress and a time-suck, too, as I relaunch that part of my career.

And 2014 is a new year… just around the corner!

Back from break – Goals for ROW80 Round 4 2013

Hey all.

It’s been a nice little break since ROW80 Round 3 ended. In that time, I turned from 46 to 47. I also wrote over 10,000 words on a pen-name project, and I had a chance to sign up with AMAC, the Association of Mature American Citizens, as an associate member. It gives me access to a fair number of discounts, which I’ve already started taking advantage of.

And I chipped a tooth trying to eat some hard candy while it was still hard, do I need to decide on filling, capping, or perhaps even extraction. Yikes. It might be a couple weeks or more before I can get work done on it, so hopefully my tooth stays infection-free in the meantime.

So that’s the social stuff. Round 4 begins now, and I need to use today’s check-in to let you know my goals for the last quarter of the year. Here we go.

1) Finish the revisions on EyeCU and get it back to the small-press publisher who’s considering it.

2) I’m challenging myself to publish either two shorts, under my own name. Kinda like I did during the Konrath 8-Hour Challenge, but without all the moral support. I want to do it the same way I did them that time, so I’m gonna refer to them as “a pair of weekend benders.” Short stories that I start on Saturday night and endeavor to publish by Monday.

3) Finish the short novel I’m writing under my pen name, plus one short that I haven’t started yet. That’d be good progress for my pen name.

4) Finish two new King David Study lessons before the end of the calendar year. That, you’ll remember, is for my faith-community involvement. But it’s also writing and that takes time, so I’m counting it!

If I do that this last quarter of the year, I’ll count it a successful quarter.

Let’s see how close I come. I’ll try to check in more than a couple times, this time. Try being the key word.

A rare third-quarter check-in!

Hey all,

Finally decided to check in again since it’s the last check-in of Round 3.

The good news is that I’ve been actively writing, a lot. The bad news is, I’ve been horrible at checking in.

Nevertheless, let’s review my goals:

1) Complete EyeCU revisions and return manuscript to small press for further consideration.

I’ve been working on this, but the revision has become more complex because I’m so unwilling to let go of the dang thing now that I’m messing with it. I’m maybe half-way there. Maybe a bit less.

2) Make a decision between SIN and EMBER, in terms of what’s next, and get after it.

I never got to this, due to EyeCU revisions.

However, I did complete and publish a brand-new $0.99 short, The Devohrah Initiative, as part of Joe Konrath’s 8-Hour Book Challenge. So while it’s just a short story, it’s the first new thing I’ve published in about 15 months under my own name. So, yay me! I’d like to publish more shorts, more frequently, going forward. We’ll discuss that in my fourth-quarter goals.

3) Write at least three more lessons in the King David study, so that I’m ahead of the game on that end of my writing life.

I got one lesson written (the third installment) and haven’t been asked to fill in lately, but hey, it’s the fall festival season, so that’s to be expected. I’m hard at word researching and doing an early draft of the fourth lesson, though.

4) Complete and publish at least two new short works under my pen name.

Well, I kinda nailed this one… I did one short under my pen name, and one short under my own name, so that’s two shorts.

I was going to write a second short under my pen name, as well, but the story kind of took off and wants to be either a novella or a short novel, now. I just blew past 30,000 words on that one, all written in the last few weeks.

So that’s not finished yet, but it’ll be finished soon and coming out during the fourth quarter.

Overall, under the circumstances, not a bad quarter. Not a great one, but better than most.

See you all in October… by which time I’ll be… one year older! I turn 47 on September 29.

A rare check-in appearance

It’s a good thing I’m not paid to check in during ROW80, or I’d be doing about as well as South Park character Starvin’ Marvin. It’s hard, sometimes, to take the time to check in when you’re on a bit of a roll.

Here’s where I stand on my goals.

1) The EyeCU revision isn’t quite done yet, but I’m getting closer. I have a new opening chapter written, and I’ve cut about half of what I ultimately need to. It may go quickly, or be a couple weeks yet, but EyeCU should be going back to the small press soon.

2) I have not selected my next project with certainty; but then, I have not finished EyeCU revisions, so that’d be expecting a bit much.

3) I’ve written and delivered the third lesson in the King David study, but have yet to write the next two because I’m still doing the necessary study.

4) I have written and published ONE new work under my pen name; and I’ve started another one. Neither were the ones I’ve been wanting to finish, but were shorter, quicker projects that helped puff some life into my pen name while I work on the longer projects. Half way home on this goal.

That’s it for now. I’ve written about 3,000 words in the last two nights, so I want to get back to that. Enjoy the weekend.

Goals for ROW80, Round 3

Since closing out Round 2, the goals I anticipated having for Round 3 have had to change. That’s because I was contacted by the small press looking at EyeCU and they requested some revisions from me, so those have to become priority number one, before all else.

So, in brief, here are my goals for Round 3 of ROW80.

1) Complete EyeCU revisions and return manuscript to small press for further consideration.

2) Make a decision between SIN and EMBER, in terms of what’s next, and get after it.

3) Write at least three more lessons in the King David study, so that I’m ahead of the game on that end of my writing life.

4) Complete and publish at least two new short works under my pen name.

That’s plenty. Those are my goals.