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My Writing Streak

Posted: October 20, 2019 in Uncategorized

I have at least one or two nights a week where my mind just keeps racing and it’s almost impossible to fall asleep until hour gets truly ungodly. I feel the need to write something, even if it’s only a blog post.

Over the past month, I’ve decided to try a very interesting writing experiment, after reading a book by Cal Ripken Jr., a baseball player who holds the record for most consecutive games played. As unbelievable as it sounds, that number is 2,632 games of baseball. Consecutively. Without missing  a single game.

The message that stuck with me in that book is simple and to the point: Show up. Every day. No excuses. Do it with a freakish, zealous consistency that would give most people in our commitment-phobic society an aneurysm.

That’s where the idea of my experiment started. If Cal could defend his streak so assiduously, so conscientiously, then what was stopping me from doing the same?

Obviously I wasn’t going to play MLB, but why not writing? That’s where the idea started.

My wife bought a mini chalkboard that’s meant to sit on a table or counter, probably as a way of displaying a daily menu or something to that effect. Well, it wasn’t getting much use, so I re-purposed it and put it on my desk next to my computer monitor.

Three simple words on it that have been far more motivating for my writing than anything I’ve ever written in my life:

Writing Streak: Day X.

Right now, that is 33. If I miss a day of writing, that number has to go back to 0.

Since I started this experiment, I haven’t missed a single day of writing. I haven’t had a weekend or break of any kind.

I suppose I’ve become something of a writing robot.

My smallest output was 500 words. My largest was 8,000. In the past 33 days, I’ve finished the final draft of my final Xenoworld novel, wrote a (not so) short story which I submitted Analog which I fully expect to be rejected, and I’ve finished the first draft, all 76,000 words of it, of the Wasteland prequel I was teasing earlier this year which, until a month ago, I didn’t expect to ever get done.

I don’t want to say it’s only because of the chalkboard and finding some random book by Cal Ripken Jr. in the library, but it’s pretty much only because of the chalkboard and finding that book. I don’t know why, but seeing that number climbing up is a bit scary. I don’t want to lose the streak. The higher the number goes, the bigger the weight of it gets.

It’s already got me planning for the future. I’m going to Disney World for a couple of days this week, so I have to bring my laptop to write in the car while my wife drives. I’m going to have to wake up early in the hotel just to get a couple of hours in. When I fly home for Christmas, I’ll have to bring my laptop as well.

There’s a second aspect to this. I realized about a week into the experiment that it would feel like cheating if I could just add to my streak by writing a measly few sentences. Technically, I would be writing, but not in any meaningful amount. I also didn’t like the idea of having a minimum word count, like 1,000 words, to keep the streak alive. If I did that, it would make it feel like I was just trying to race to that number as quickly as possible.

In short, having a set number just seemed . . . boring. That’s where the dice came in, that little random flair that keep things from getting too stale.

It works like this: I open a notepad, and write the numbers 1-6.  Besides each of those numbers will be potential word counts. On a typical day, they’ll be in the range between 1,000-5,000. This will deviate sometimes. If I’m occupied that day, the range will be smaller, say, from 500-2,500.

Then, I roll the die. Whatever number I get, that’s the amount of words I have to write. My writing streak can’t be added to unless I meet that word goal.

Sometimes I get “lucky” and only have to write a thousand words, some days, I have to write 5,000, or in one case, 8,000 words. One time I rolled 6 four days in a row. That resulted in me writing over 20,000 words in four days.

I know this method sounds crazy. I feel a bit crazy for even sharing it.  Then again, writers are known for doing weird things to get in the writing mood. I think it was Asimov who liked to write in a tiny closet, which in my opinion is a little stranger than what I’m doing.

As stupid and silly as it sounds, the exercise has really stretched and pushed my abilities as a writer. This is the absolute fastest I’ve ever written a draft for anything. 76,000 words in about three weeks. I might be releasing two new books this year!

Of course, just by revealing this in a blog post, I’m probably going to jinx it. But honestly, I’ve tried all sorts of things to increase my productivity and for some weird reason this is the one that’s sticking. I’m not saying I’ll always do the dice method, but the writing streak part is one I plan to keep doing forever.

In just a little over a month, I’ve been the most productive I’ve ever been in my writing career. Even when considering late 2013/early 2014, which was probably the most productive period of my life. I’m excited to keep the streak going. Just thought I’d share, for whatever reason that compelled me to.

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Aberration Cover

Posted: October 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

Aberration_full_sm.jpg

Aberration Update, and more

Posted: October 15, 2019 in Uncategorized

Wow, didn’t realize how long you guys have been without a blog post. I’ve been very busy! The final draft of Aberration is done, pending reading by beta readers, but that part will only come once the cover art is finalized, which I’m in the process of doing. That should come in days, if not sooner than that.

An early  November release is looking pretty likely. Like I said, pretty much everything is done, so things will start falling into place rather quickly.

As far as what’s next, well, you may remember if you’ve been following me since earlier this year that I was sort of playing around with the idea of a Wasteland prequel featuring Makara and Samuel and their time in L.A. before meeting Alex. Well, I’m happy to say that the first draft of this story is almost done! It’s a bit rough around the edges at the moment, but my hope is with some decent editing on my part that it will become a decent story with a place fitting in the Wasteland chronicles canon.

This will be a short novel of no more than 70,000 words at the most, so it’ll be something for you guys to read while I start working on whatever project’s next.

I’d always liked the idea of doing a prequel with some of the more interesting characters, but after this one is done, I’ll probably continue my writing journey outside the Wasteland and Xenoworld. As good as both series have been to me, it’s time to move on to other things, whatever those other things are.

It’s hard to believe that journey is coming to an end. I wrote the first words of Prophecy way back in 2014, over five years ago. The first scene I wrote actually took place in book 3 in an altered form, where Shanti and some Seekers were charged with going to Hyperborea to find Anna’s prophecy. In the end, the series turned out differently from that, though I took a lot of those same ideas and turned them into something better, hopefully. The saga spans hundreds of thousands of words, and ended up being something greater and more epic than Wasteland chronicles, in my opinion (though I’m sure most people probably prefer the first series). As will become evident by the end of this book, Wasteland Chronicles and the struggle the characters go through is only a broader story fitting within larger tale, one that will wrap up a bit better than how Xenofall ended.

Not really sure how to close this off, other than the fact that I’m excited to be releasing the final book of this seven book series, my fourteenth book in all. I’m incredibly honored to have all of you as readers, especially considering how there are so many things in this world that demand our attention. As long as I have you guys as readers, then I know I can keep writing books. I’ll keep writing as long as even a few of you are willing to read them.

 

 

Second Draft Complete

Posted: August 23, 2019 in Uncategorized

I can hardly believe it, but I’ve finished the second draft of Aberration, and to my surprise, it only went up to 170,000 words. “Only” being a relative word, of course. That’s still almost 700 printed pages, but strangely, editing all those words never really felt like that bad of a slog, even if at points I felt like I was losing my sanity.

What’s left is one final read through to smooth things out before my beta readers take a stab at it, and then after that, the final book of The Xenoworld Saga will be published. Late September is my pie in the sky guess if all the stars align, but it will almost certainly be out in October.

Mostly, I’m relieved that the hard part is done. Writing the first draft, and then editing second, is always the hardest part. Of course, there’s plenty of work to be done, and fixing those slight bumps in the prose takes times. There’s still the cover, which has been tough, mostly because I just can’t find an image that I’m happy with.

Not really sure what else to write. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with a short blog post. The wife and I are just living our lives here in West Palm Beach, and are looking forward to hosting some friends for a few days. We’re visiting Miami and going up to Orlando for Disney World. After that, I’ll be back to working on the final draft, though I’ll probably sneak some time to do it here and there during the week.

Book Update #1,212

Posted: August 10, 2019 in Uncategorized

Man. This book is a bit of a doozy. Currently over halfway edited, and over 165,000 words. For reference, that’s twice as long as the average length of my other ones, and the word count will likely increase as I smooth things out even more.

Not to turn this into too long of a blog post, but this novel has really tested my abilities as an author. One of those things in particular being patience. I thought this would be done way earlier, but if you’ve followed me for a while, you already know I have a history of being overly optimistic with my deadlines.

It’s hard not to be a bit overwhelmed sometimes, to the point where I’m vowing to myself that I’ll keep all my future books 60-80,000 words from now on. That I’m actually going to outline things this time instead of just winging it. Even so, that probably won’t happen, because every book I write takes on a life of its own, and if I do bother to outline things, I either forget about it or my subconscious (which makes all the creative decisions) completely disregards it. If this book wants to be a monster, that’s something I just have to be okay with, because in the end it’s about delivering the best story I can with the time I’ve got. By definition, a book twice as long takes twice as long to edit and there’s just no way around that. Unfortunately.

On a more positive note, I’m finding I’m actually liking how the story reads. In a word, it’s epic. Completely epic. That’s all I’m going to say, and I know that’s cruel, but I don’t want to spoil anything. I’d like to think giving you guys a long, action-packed book that’ll last you a good while would be a great parting gift, and a fitting conclusion to a story that has been an epic journey – the story itself, and also my story in writing it. Which, admittedly, is probably more boring than the story itself, involving lots of coffee, head-banging, anxiety, maladjustment, insomnia, and many other similar, nasty words. That’s not exactly hyperbole. It takes a crazy person to want to do this for a living. It’s hard to decide whether writing is passion or compulsion. For me, it’s compulsion.

I keep thinking to myself, over and over, I can’t believe I’ve been working on Xenoworld since 2014. That feels like ancient history at this point. So much has changed since then, marriage being the main thing. I still think of the person I was as a kid. Maybe I still am a kid, because the UPS guy thought I was too young to sign for the package the other day (my Pokemon shirt probably didn’t help). The point being, the person who started Xenoworld is very different to the person I am now, to the point where when I read my older books (which I’m doing now), it feels as if they’ve been written by a another person. In a way, that was another person. But that’s a whole other blog post.

I don’t really know what’s next. I’ve thought of genre switching for a while, just for the sake of doing something different. But the future remains to be seen, and while you can plan for that future, those plans rarely turn out as you imagined them. If you read this whole thing, wondering where the release date is . . . I’m sorry to disappoint. If it’s not out this fall, then I’ve pretty much failed as a writer.

As always say in every one of these posts: I’m truly grateful for your patience. I can’t promise the end result will be worth it (there are always a few disappointed people who say the quality has dropped off – one of the first things you learn as a writer is that you can’t please everyone, and who knows? Maybe they’re right). What I can promise is that I’m trying my hardest, and I think my efforts will be entertaining for the vast majority of you.

As readers, we know books are more than just stories. They are our only chance to step into another’s shoes and be that person, to see the world from another perspective, and to think of questions might not otherwise think about. Even if it is from the perspective of a teenager who’s been tasked to save the world, and imbued with alien abilities. A tale as old as time by this point, but I hope my twist on a familiar story has been entertaining for you all, if nothing else.

I can say almost for sure this book will be done by this fall. I want to say September, but I know that if I do, I’ll get in trouble. So let’s set that as my tentative goal, since I’m not really sure what it’s like to edit a book this size.

Book Update

Posted: June 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

It’s been a couple of months since my last post. Nothing has really changed aside from the word count of Aberration becoming padded as it creeps toward 150,000 words, by far the longest book I’ve ever written. Writing such a long book has been something of a slog, to be honest. It’s really tested my abilities as a writer and the ending is turning out quite different from what I expected, to the point where I’m not sure how readers will react to it.

It may change in the edit, but currently, the ending has been tough to write because it’s causing the characters to make very tough choices, choices that can be somewhat diabolical on my part. It feels bad to make them go through hell after they’ve already been through so much. And yet, to do anything less than that feels dishonest. They are up against an enemy that’s as powerful as it is evil, and it would cheapen the entire series if that enemy were difficult to defeat. That’s all I’m willing to say about the ending, because obviously saying anything more or giving anything aside from these cryptic words would spoil it. That said, I enjoy the challenge even if it means it’s a bit painful to write.

I was overly optimistic on the release date. At the time I wrote those words, I was on a writing roll, going through mostly hack and slash sort of scenes, where the scenes I’m writing now are rife with moral dilemmas and tough questions, which honestly has made me want to hide from it a bit.

But obviously I could never forgive myself if I gave up here, and it’s not even a question of giving up. It’s a question of being ready and willing to return to my characters’ worlds and live out their decisions for myself, though it’s nowhere near as tough as what they have to go through. And the fact that this is starting to feel real to me means it will be probably be that much more real for you guys, who won’t know how things turn out in the end.

Thanks for reading. As much as I hate to say it’ll be out Soon™, that’s basically where we are at this point. I’m sure the first draft will be done this month. The only thing I’m not sure about is how long a novel this length will take to edit. All I can say is I’ll try to be as quick as possible while giving this the ending it deserves.

Writing Update

Posted: April 7, 2019 in Uncategorized

A bit of a writing update for you guys.

First draft should be done by mid-April! I’m on track and have passed 100,000 words on the manuscript. I’ll have something to work with after I come back from vacation later this month. That said, I have a feeling that there will be a lot of revisions that will make the book even longer, since there are aspects I sort of glossed over in the current iteration. I want the final book of the series to be epic, and since most of the characters, major or minor, will be making an appearance, that means a lot of story arcs coming to an end all at once. So, the plan is to finish the first draft by mid-April, and to work hard on the revisions all through late April and May.

Moving on, my Wasteland prequel outline is more or less finalized. I probably won’t begin the actual writing bit until Aberration is done, though, since I need to concentrate everything on finishing up Xenoworld.

That’s it for today. Short and sweet.