Back from break – Goals for ROW80 Round 4 2013

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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!

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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

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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

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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.


All in all, not a bad quarter…

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All in all, I’d have to say that this was one of my better ROW80 quarters in a while.

Sure, I still haven’t published anything new in over a year. But I did finish my initial draft and my editing/revision run back through EyeCU, to the point where I felt it was ready to submit to a small press that had expressed interest. And I actually submitted it to them. It could still be at least a couple months before I hear anything back about whether they’re interested or not, but I count moving EyeCU to this point a huge victory for me.

My other goals for this quarter have fared okay, as well, though publishing anything new still hasn’t taken place.

First, I spent a few weeks learning how Scrivener works and how to adept it to my writing style, and my writing style to it. I’m now an confirmed Scrivener addict, which should bode well for the future in terms of my productivity. However, I did lose a few weeks learning Scrivener.

As for my sideline writing, working on a character study of King David, I’ve written two new lessons during this quarter of ROW80, and delivered one of them. That brings me to a total of three lessons in the can. I have many more lessons to study through and write up, so that won’t be done any time soon. However, once they are, I may use them as the first draft for a nonfiction book, where I can expand upon those teachings and make it into something for that sort of audience. Or not. I haven’t really thought much about whether I should turn my teachings for my congregation into nonfiction eBooks. Inspirational writing is a completely different market than the fiction I write, so I’m not sure. But I don’t have to decide for a while, because the study will be in progress for a long time. But that accounted for about 7,000 new words written, even though it’s not fiction.

After getting EyeCU out the door, I wanted to go back to EMBER and get that project going again. I even moved the book from MS Word into Scrivener and have it all broken down by chapters and scenes. All I really need to do now is get back into the groove of Ember and her world. But I haven’t written anything new on EMBER just yet. And for one primary reason.

That reason is my new-from-scratch project, with a working title of SIN. I’m not sure what kind of story this will become, not just yet. But I’m basing it heavily off many of my own childhood experiences, which I feel are part of what will make this book unique and also really help me find my own voice, narratively-speaking.

But SIN isn’t a memoir or anything like that. Though heavily based on stuff from my own life, this will be fiction; I’m just not sure what sort of story it’s going to be yet, though.

Despite the title, it’s not a religious piece.

One thing I know the novel will be about is establishing a friendship between two young characters, building a lot of life and vitality into that friendship, and then demonstrating a significant betrayal of that friendship.

That’s what I need to get out on paper. Where it goes from there is what will determine what kind of story this is. Will I build it into a tale where the friend gets abducted and it becomes a suspense thing? Will I add in some mild supernatural element and turn it toward horror? Will I keep it more grounded and have it be more of a straight-up, non-genre piece of fiction?

The honest truth is, I haven’t decided yet. But I’ve written three or four powerful chapter/scenes so far, about 4,200+ words of progress, and it’s the tale that seems to be the most urgent in my mind, the one straining hardest to break free into life on the page.

And then there are my light-and-fluffy pen-name projects that I don’t take so seriously. I have two projects going there.

One is a novella-length tale that I have written over 5,000 words on, but is maybe only one-fifth of the way done, at best.

The other is a quick little short I am working on, specifically to get something new out under that pen name and revive the sales of the rest of my line, as well as offer a taste of my novella-length tale. (Yeah, I’m gonna include a sample-chapter of that in with the shorter tale.)

I planned the short to run around 5,000 words and I’m at 4,500 right now, with the feeling it could run closer to 7,000 words by the time it’s done.

So, let’s tally that up:

7,000 words on ministry-writing
4,200 words on SIN
5,000 words on pen-name novella
4,500 words on pen-name short

That means, in addition to EyeCU being out the door for the summer, and learning a complex new writing software, in the last three months I’ve also written 20,700 words of new progress on various projects.

Considering I started out the quarter editing and revision probably the last 60,000 words of EyeCU, that’s about an 80,000+ word quarter. Not bad.

So, what will I do now?

Well, I can’t slow down. I want my pen-name short finished, edited and being put up for sale by the end of June, if not sooner. At first, I’m only gonna put it in KDP Select, so I don’t have to worry about any ePub versions, but that’s okay since I make the bulk of my income from Amazon anyway.

And then I need to move the pen-name novella forward, and decide if I want to pour myself into EMBER, whose world is already familiar to me, or SIN, where I’m not yet even sure what type of story I’m writing there.

Hopefully, by the time ROW80 2013 Round 3 starts up in a couple weeks, I’ll have a better handle on my next set of goals. But all in all, I count this a very successful Round 2!


Adopting the Scrivener Approach

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Hey there!

When I first set my goals for this session of ROW80, I said I wanted to finish self-editing EyeCU to the point that it was ready for submission to a small press that is considering it.

That goal has been met.

I didn’t set any formal goals beyond that, but I did indicate some things I’d be working on.

So here’s a check-in on my bonus goals.

1) I have a pen-name I do completely different stuff with than the books I normally do, and I set a goal to do six shorts for that pen name, to revive sales for that part of my writing life.

Progress so far is that instead of six shorts, I decided to do a short novella instead, and while it’s progressing, it’s not done yet. So that’s still in the works. But I’ll trade six shorts for one novella, even up, most days anyway. It’s a fun thing, a bit of escapism, and not a labor. So far.

2) I said that outside of my professional writing, I have a ministry writing goal of authoring a study on King David. So far, I’ve written (and delivered) two lessons, started a third, and have several more lessons roughly sketched out.

In honesty, I’m a bit behind schedule on this as my goal is to have two lessons ahead written at all times. That way, when I’m called upon to teach, there’s no rush to complete writing anything… I’ll have the next two lessons done at least, all the time. But I’m not there yet, so I need to make more time for this.

3) I was going to jump back into EMBER right away after finishing EyeCU; that, or write a trilogy of holiday-themed novellas, which is something I’d still like to do as I think it could be a very commercially-appealing project.

But something happened along the way. Or a couple things, actually.

The first thing that happened is that I took advantage of a sale on Amazon, and finally invested in my own copy of Scrivener for Windows. For the last few weeks, I’ve been learning the program and how best to use it and take advantage of its tools. I’m now a convert to the usefulness of the program for novelists like myself. But it took several weeks to really get comfortable writing in it.

The other thing that happened is that a nascent idea for a completely different project formed in my mind and started banging on the back of my eyeballs, begging to be set free via my fingers and a keyboard.

So, I’ve started working on that project, now, which has a working title of SIN. If it sounds like a religious-inspirational novel, it’s not. Instead, it’s about a friendship that ended in a betrayal, and the journey back from that dark place.

The other thing I did over this weekend is that I learned how to import Word documents into Scrivener successfully, so now I have all of Ember in Scrivener and I can proceed with that book, too, a lot more smoothly now.

So, my time this summer will continue to be divided among these projects:

1) Continuing my King David study

2) Finishing my pen-name novella

3) Working on EMBER

4) Working on SIN

We’ll see which of the last two ultimately takes over as the higher priority project, but I’d kind of like to keep both moving forward.

Rants and asides

Okay, I’m annoyed with the new Google Chrome browser…

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Time to get honest, folks. As much as I love Google products like my Android phone and my Google Nexus tablet, and as much as I kinda-sorta gotta get a Chromebook someday within the next couple years, the company is far from perfect.

The latest example of Google doing something annoying is a feature in the latest edition of their Google Chrome browser for Windows.

There’s this new “next-gen” version of Auto-Complete featured in the latest build, but it’s annoying as heck. Why? Because it acts preemptively too soon.

First, a confession: I almost never search by going to the Google home page (or any other search engine’s home page) first. Instead, I tend to click up in the web address bar and start typing my query there.

For example, in the action that inspired this post, I wanted to find out of there was a web site that explained how to clear MS Word settings from documents created in MS Word but imported into Scrivener.

So I clicked up in the Chrome address bar, as is my habit, and started typing: “How do I clear…”

Suddenly the screen jumps and doesn’t let me finish my thought. It even kicks my cursor out of the address bar.

And brings me to a page of search results for… “How do I clear my cache?”

That’s NOT the question I was asking, Google. Stop interrupting me! I have real-life friends who make stupid, incorrect assumptions about what I’m about to say all the time. I don’t need that from my web browser, too.

Let me ask my question completely so that you can know for sure what I’m about to ask and give me the correct answer, because I’m sick of having this happen and then having to retype the question over in a results page full of answers for a question I never asked.

Whether they call this Auto-Complete or Auto-Anticipate or Just-Plain-Rude, this feature needs to get smarter, and more patient, or go bye-bye.



Latest news: EyeCU is completed and submitted!

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This is a post over a year in the making.

For the last several sessions of ROW80, I’ve been laboring on (working title) EyeCU, a thriller that, at this point, runs over 102,000 words in length. It took me just under a year to write the first draft, and just under four months to edit it sufficiently to feel at ease with it.

And by “at ease with it,” I mean I’ve submitted the manuscript to a small press, rather than pushing forward and processing it as an indie. Were I to do that, my next step would be to hire an editor and a cover artist. Instead, I’ll wait over the summer for this small press publisher to evaluate my manuscript and decide if they like what they see. (I won’t name the publisher unless they accept the book. If they don’t, I’ll simply resume my self-publishing efforts in the fall and get it out there myself.)

Not only is this a goal for this session of ROW 80, it’s been the major goal of the last five or six ROW80 sessions I’ve participated in.

And now, here I am, done. And free, at last, to work on other projects.

Until fall, at least. By then, I’ll either be hip-deep in content editing with the small press I’ve submitted to, or I’ll be hip-deep in some type of editing with whoever I hire to help me as an indie.

Either way… I can finally work on the next thing. That’s my update. How’s that?


ROW80 2013 – Round 2

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This is going to be a weird round of ROW80 for me. Why? It’s largely a transition time for me.

Here’s why: I’m closing in on finishing off my pre-beta-reader editing and polishing on EyeCU. So that story will be off to beta readers soon. Then there’s polishing and editing in reaction to that. Plus, I’ll be submitting the book to a small press during this round, as well.

Plus, I have to listen through the work my lovely narrator is doing on the audiobook version of Most Likely.

That leaves this big, gaping hole in my schedule that’s filled with a lot of busy-work, but no big project yet. (Because I don’t want to launch into EMBER quite yet, when I’m going to be interrupted so much by EyeCU edits.)

What I’m thinking of doing, however, is setting a different kind of goal for myself. I have a secret pen-name I’ve been using to write in a completely unrelated genre, and since sales have started to lag over the past year since I dedicated all my writing time to EyeCU, I think it’s time to inject some life back into that pen-name.

So, how’s this for a main goal?

1) Write and publish at least six fiction shorts under my pen name, to rev up the income on that end of things. That’d total two a month and ought to be attainable.

Everything else will be EyeCU-related.

(Although I’m also writing a Messianic character study of the life of King David, as well, so that’s taking up writing time, too.)

So, I’ll be busy. That’s my main goal for this Round of ROW80. Work on EyeCU and the King David study, and write six new fiction shorts for my pen-name. If I can get that much done, I think I’ll have accomplished a lot.


EyeCU is complete! The work has just begun…

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At long last, I am happy to report that the novel I’ve spent the last eleven months of my life writing is complete. At least in terms of the writing and crafting of the story is concerned.

How I enter polish-draft mode, preparing the manuscript to go out to my beta readers. Then more revisions. Then sending it to my editor, and then… we’ll see what happens from there.

When last I checked in on Wednesday, my word count on EyeCU stood at 93,489 words. Now that the final two chapters have been written, the book in its complete form for this draft, consists of 100,254 words, which means since Wednesday check-in, I’ve written the best surge of words I’ve managed since I began writing EyeCU last March.

In a mere three days plus, I’ve written 6,765 words to finish out my narrative.

Now I can get busy, between other phases of working on EyeCU, on starting my next project. Thanks for sharing this long, long journey with me. And thanks for sticking around in the future as I forge ahead to the next.


Third check-in of 2013 for me

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I’m checking in for the third time in 2013.

I know the general expectation is twice a week, but I don’t like checking in until I have something significant to share. And now, I do. Again.

At last check-in, my word count on EyeCU stood at 90,262. I’m now at 93,489 words and counting. That’s 3,227 words of new progress since my last check-in. Not overly impressive, I know, but I’m not beyond the climactic action of the story and into the closing sweeps of the story. Tidying things up at the end.

In other words: I’m close to the end, but I’m not rushing it. I want to give readers a solid sense of closure since this isn’t a tale I’m expecting to turn into a series. It’s a one-off, so the payoff needs to leave the reader satisfied that they’ve been told a complete story.

I have a couple more story beats to go, consisting of mainly a chapter or two. And that’ll be it.

I’m close.

But I’m not quite done.

Not yet.

But soon.


Second real check-in of 2013

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Yeah, I know. I know, I know.

I’m bad at checking in regularly.

But I have been writing. As you can see by the EyeCU Progress bar on the right side of the Web page, I’ve surpassed my length goal for EyeCU. By a lot. And before the novel’s done, it’ll probably be by a bit more.

That’s right; EyeCU isn’t done yet, but it is in the closing action. The climactic action with the fallout to follow.

Last time I checked in, my word count stood at 83,149 words. It now stands at 90,262 words. That’s 7,113 words of progress since my last check-in. It’s come in fits and starts for a while, but has been rolling now pretty smoothly for a few days. That’s because, as I said, I’m finally at the climactic stuff that all the novel has been leading to.

So, that’s where I stand. I hope to check in sooner this next time. And with, perhaps, some huge news that I’ve spent the last ten months or more working toward: the completion of EyeCU. (Well, in first draft, anyways. It’ll be with me for some time to come in editing, revision, and smoothing mode.