Singapore

Way back in days of yore, in 1999, I went on my first Navy deployment.  On that deployment, we pulled into Singapore twice.  I loved it.  Absolutely LOVED it.  One hell of an awesome place.

So you can imagine my joy when we actually came back here again on this deployment.  Score!

For your viewing pleasure:

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Pretty awesome, right?

Man, it’s been good being back here.  Alas, we’ll be leaving soon.  But it’s been a fun time.  Definitely need to get back again, sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, writing’s going pretty well.  I finished a 4th Glimmer Vale book and am well on the way toward finishing a mystery.  I can hear you guys now.  OOO!  Mystery!  Wow!  *eyeroll*  Try to contain yourselves.  I’m a bit behind on actual word count toward the deployment goal, but that’s ok.  I can still get there.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Just a quick update, to say hi.  Hope all y’all are doing well out there.  🙂  Until next time.

Deployment Goals

A couple weeks back, I mentioned I was going on deployment, and that I’d talk more about that later.  Well, now is later.  😛  I am no longer in San Diego.  Shoot, I haven’t been in San Diego for two weeks.

As those of you who have read the “About Michael” tab above, or who have gotten to know me through other means, know, I am an active duty officer in the US Navy.  About four months ago, word came down about a need for a guy to fill a job in a task force in the Westpac.  Now, as a submarine officer I’ve worked with SOF (Special Operations Forces; spoken SEALs) guys before.  I recall they were a lot of fun, and this particular job involves doing things that support them.  Since that sounded wicked cool, and since it’s been a while since I’ve been on a real deployment, and since the Admiral at home keeps saying she doesn’t feel like a real Navy wife because we haven’t done a deployment since we’ve been married, I raised my hand and said, “I’ll go!”

And they looked at the list of volunteers and said, “Sure, come on over.”

Consequently, the Admiral at home said, “Cool, get the f*(k out of here, you slacker.”

So two weeks ago, I left San Diego.

First stop was Hawaii, for a week.  Good thing about that was 1) it’s Hawaii and 2) I had enough frequent flyer miles on Southwest to fly the Admiral’s parents out to San Diego (so they could watch the kids) and enough frequent flyers miles on American (from flying to Japan all the time for the Navy) to fly her to Hawaii with me.  🙂  She’s been wanting to go to Hawaii for a while; in fact one of our West Coast bucket list items was to get out to the islands again (I say again because my first Navy assignment – before I met her – after my initial training was on a submarine based out of Pearl Harbor.).

Promise fulfilled!   🙂

It was a great week.  For reference, here’s the view from one of my favorite bars on Oahu, Duke’s.

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Doesn’t suck.   🙂

I checked in at the command on Oahu and did some in-briefing stuff, but not too much.  The rest of the time, I showed the Admiral around the island, and a good time was had by all.  But alas, as with all things, that good time came to an end, and she flew home while I flew to Guam, where I currently am.

Again for reference, this is the view out of my hotel room window.

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Also doesn’t suck.  🙂

I’ve been here for a week, doing some training with the unit here on Guam, learning things I need to know so I can do my job properly when I get out west.  Some parts have been pretty grueling, though.  For instance, the other day I had to endure small boat handling training.

Small Boats

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It truly sucked, as you can see.  🙂

But that’s all done now (thank God! <snark>) and pretty soon I’m going to push further west to do things in support of operations.  I hope that’s vague enough for you, because that’s all you’re going to get from me about that.  ;P

But I know what you’re thinking.  What does that have to do with writing, Kingswood?

Not a damn thing, except for this.  I’ll be deployed on a ship out west for six months, not to exceed 180 days.  I’ll have operations to do, admin to keep track of, and PT to exercise.  But I’ll also have time to do other things.  So I figured I’d set some writing goals for my time out there.

Now, let’s be honest.  I set goals for 2014 way back in January.  I haven’t talked much about them in a while.  That’s because I’ve totally screwed the pooch this year.  Completely.  I know, I know.  I suck at life, I should be drawn and quartered, blah blah blah.  *shrug* Whatever.  I just didn’t git ‘r done. No big deal.  But it seems to me this is the prime time to reset and refocus so I can get fully back into the writing game.

So here’s the deal.  180 days.  2,000 words/day (that’s about 1.33 hrs/day at my typical writing speed).  360,000 words.  That’ll do two things: get me back into the rhythm of writing consistently, which I haven’t done lately, and get me over the mythical 1,000,000 word mark.

So that’s the goal.

To break it down, that comes out to about 12,800 words/week if you count all the weeks between now and my expected return date.  Seems totally doable.

So what projects shall I work on?

First, I’m going to finish the novelette I’ve been (ridiculously slowly) chugging away on since…June?…that I intend to submit to Writers of the Future.  Then, back to novels.  The novel goals for this deployment:

1) Finish Dawn of Enlightenment 2

2) Finish Glimmer Vale 4

3) Get going on The Penitent – that’s a project I got inspired to do about 3 years ago, got about 8,000 words written on, and have since done nothing with.  It’ll be wicked awesome if I ever hunker down and finish it.  Looks like now’s the time.

4) If there’s time (depending on how big The Penitent gets…I think it’ll be pretty big) get started on and/or finish Glimmer Vale 5

And of course, I will get back into the habit of “penning” short stories and;or novelettes for Wotf and general dissemination.

I also have some non-writing goals

1) Get below 200 lbs, as talked about before

2) Work up to doing 20 pull-ups in a row

3) Finish Insanity.  This will take a reset, because between drinking all the time on Oahu with the Admiral last week, more traveling between then and here, generally screwing off here, and more travel to come between here and Westpac to come, I’ve not kept up with Insanity well.  In fact, I got one day done last week.  In response, this week I decided to re-do Week 7.  And got three days done.  So, next week I’m going to re-do Week 7 again, and proceed on to the finish from there.  Then, I think I’ll go back to the Week 5 recovery week and then re-do month 2 again, because consistency and continual improvement.  And masochism.  Or something.  😉  After that, the Admiral suggested I mail her back the Insanity discs so she can to them, and she’ll mail me the P90X discs.  I’m down, but we’ll see how that works out.  Not sure how long it’ll take mail to get between here and there on a routine basis.

So that’s the deal.  I’ve set up my usual project and goal-tracking spreadsheets to monitor my progress.  Time to make a go of it.  Who wants to back me up, nag me on, and keep me honest about it?

Wish me luck!

Marital Bliss and Other Developments

It’s been well over a week since I last updated the blog here.  No doubt all y’all have been on the edge of your seats wondering what’s become of me.  Well, my half-hearted prediction came true: the business of traveling and the wedding overwhelmed everything else and I was lost in a sea of kids, mothers, aunts, significant others, drunken revelers, and all the others that you would expect at such an event.  It was a pretty good time, even though several times when the better half, the kids, and I walked in, we received blank stares and, “Oh.  We didn’t realize you were coming…with the kids,” followed by a mad scramble to make room, since it seemed there never was enough seating for everyone.  It’s almost as though we hadn’t told anyone we were coming.

Oops.

But wait, it gets better.  Flying back on Tuesday, we were delayed in departing Orlando and thus missed our connection in Phoenix.  So Southwest was kind enough to put us up in a hotel for the night before getting us home Wednesday (yesterday) morning.

But seriously, don’t get the wrong idea.  It was a good trip.  Very good, despite the stress of flying four kids across country.  It’s not every day one’s sister ties the knot, after all, and the ceremony and celebrations were beautiful and tons of fun.  And Florida is a fun place in general.  And for certain the Atlantic is a whole lot more fun to swim in than the Pacific.  Or at least the Pacific along the California coast – can you say freaking cold?  Yeah, I thought you could.

So that’s why there were no chapters while I was gone.  Hardly a surprise, right?  😉  Sorry about that.  I’ll just put the next one up on Saturday and call it even, ok?

Cool.

Speaking of cool, while I was away, three more short audiobooks of mine went live on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.  These are the next three of my Larian Elesir stories – short stories and novelettes all, and thus quite affordable as audiobooks go.  Just $3.95 apiece (less if you’re an Audible member).  I highly encourage you to check them out, if you’re so inclined.  And of course, if you’re not an Audible member and decide to join and make one of my stories your first purchase, I’ll get a nice hefty “bounty” for your head.  Erm…for your business, I mean.  I think it’s $50 – not too shabby.  So anyway, do go by and have a look.  Nick Mortise read them all and I think he did a great job.  Listening to them put a smile on my face.  And reminded me that I really ought to write more Larian stories because he’s cool and I enjoy him.

So that happened.  Let’s see…what else to put out?  Oh yes.

On Saturday, 31 May, I’m putting The Pericles Conspiracy on sale for $0.99 on Amazon.  Actually, I told Amazon to lower the price just a minute ago, so it’ll probably drop sometime tomorrow, so I’m not late.  You see, I decided to experiment with a paid promotion, and on Saturday Booksends is going to feature Pericles.  So it’ll be $0.99 for the day, then on Sunday it’ll go to $2.99.  Then either Monday or Tuesday, depending on how it’s doing, it’ll return to full price.  So if you’ve had the hankering to check Pericles out but haven’t gotten around to it yet, now’s the time.  Or rather, Saturday’s the time.  Kindly wait until then; hopefully the ad will drive a bunch of folks to purchase it on that day, and the more who do the more ranking boost it’ll get, so…wait until then, if you would.  🙂

So that’s what’s new around here.  Hope all’s well with y’all.  Time to get a little work done, then hit the rack.

Until next time.  🙂

Goal Progress Update

It’s been several weeks since I did an update on here.  Got some good excuses, which aren’t really excuses but reasons.  I’ll discuss them  as we go.  Ready?

Ok.

Week 6

Week 6I only got 2,248 words that week.  I was Mr. Mom, but interestingly enough I only got words written after my Mom left.  Odd.

Week 7

Week 7You’ll notice I didn’t get much written in week 7 until the middle of the week.  That’s when my better half came home.  Not sure how that correlation works.  It’s not like taking care of 3 kids is all that stressful or time consuming.  I blame watching too much TV and drinking too much wine.  Yeah, that’s it.

Week 8

Nada.

The thing to know about that week is it was the last week of an internation tactics course at my place of work.  A bunch of Australians flew into town to train with us.  I got out of playing with them the first two weeks because I took time off to deal with the family crisis.  But even if I’d wanted to, I could not get out of this week.  Because I am in charge of their course of instruction, and while the previous two weeks were classroom, this one was hands on.  We went underway on a couple destroyers for the night, flew back in a Navy helicopter, toured a few other ships, went to the Navy helicopter simulator, and generally had a great time.  And then on Saturday I flew to Japan for two weeks of exercises and training.  The fun thing about flying to Japan is that you get there a day after you left, because you’re flying west across the Date Line.  So even though I left in Saturday, I arrived (pretty late) on Sunday night.  So even if I’d had the energy to write that night, there would be no more writing that week.

Week 9

Week 9I hit the goal this week.  You’ll notice the writing was weighted toward the end of the week.  That’s because the exercise we ran in Yokosuka last week kept me busy.  And because after the exercise each night, we tended to go out and get dinner.  I mean drink.  Ok, both.  But we finished the exercise on Thursday, and I flew here to Okinawa on Friday.  We didn’t start the training here until yesterday, Monday in Japan (Sunday to people in the US).  So I had time to write.  And I did so.  It worked out well.  🙂

I’ll tell you what, I’ve not been to Okinawa since 1999.  I until last October, I hadn’t been to Yokosuka since 2000.  Things haven’t changed that much.  As before, I find I like Okinawa more.  It’s less cluttered and it’s tropical.  What’s not to like.  This trip, four of us are renting a cabin from the Navy WMR on White Beach, which is where CTF 76, the command we’re training, is stationed.  There’s not a lot on the base, but it’s a pretty nice place, nonetheless.  I’ll post some pictures a little later.

 

Long story short, I’m now a little behind on my annual goal.  I’m at 32,500 words written so far, in 2 months.  Do that math on that: if I continue at this pace it’ll take 19 months to complete my 300,000 word goal.  Fortunately, I’m not going to continue at this pace.  A lot of stuff went on at work and at home in January and February, but the busy season at work will be over soon, and that’ll help.  So I’m not panicking yet.

I’ve made a lot of progress on The Pericles Conspiracy.  I’ve also completed my vampire demon bunny story: it ended up at 25,500 word novella.  And I finished the cop story I started a long, long, long time ago: it came out to 4,300 words.  I named it Crossing The Line and  submitted it to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.  We’ll see how that works out, but I like how the story turned out.  So even if EQ doesn’t dig it I’m still happy.

🙂

Ok, getting back to writing now.  Cheers.

 

Catchup

Wow, talk about a crazy couple weeks.  I’ve been jaunting all over the country, writing, searching for housing, listening to feedback, getting a tan…  And I never tan.  You want to talk about instant-lobster, that’s me.  But somehow this week it’s worked out better.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  I lost you.  Back to the beginning, shall we?

As I mentioned before, two weeks ago I flew off to Oregon to visit Dean and Kris.  I’d been looking forward to this workshop, Character Voice and Setting, for a while.  It’s not every day one gets to learn from people who have each published over a hundred novels and too many short stories to count.  I was flattered that Dean allowed me to come at all, since he doesn’t let just anyone in, and was determined to make the most of it.

But I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Dean warned that it was going to be intense.  Brutal.  So I got to thinking, what does that mean?  I had visions of 5-6k words a day, having to be up all night to git ‘r done, things like that.  The reality was…not quite so brutal as that.

Each day we had reading and writing assignments.  The writing amounted to 2k/day for the first three days and 1.5k/day for the last three.  Plus two 3-6k short stories (mine came in at 3,400 and 5,900 words, respectively).  And I had to redo one of the 1.5k assignments, since I missed the mark pretty badly.  So that comes out to a total of 21,300 words, or thereabout, for the week.  Pretty good numbers, when you think about it.  Just not as extreme and soul-crushing as I had envisioned.  Which is a good thing.  🙂

So was it worth the time and cost to go?  Oh heck yeah.  Like the title of the workshop implies, we focused all on techniques to make characters come alive and make setting immersive.  And boy is there a lot that goes into that; more than I ever thought of before.  Dean advertised we’d have issues with some of it, since he was going to force us into critical voice all week.  And that was true.  What did I have the biggest issues with?  Well…

1) I found I am good at doing a southern accent (big surprise there) and an English.  But NY and Hispanic?  Nope.

2) Setting.  I had always viewed setting as the backdrop upon which characters do things, and little more.  Wrong.  I was so wrong.  Turns out setting is characterization too, because everything in the story comes to the reader through the eyes and ears of the point of view character.  So setting goes to characterization too, since what the character notices or not tells a lot about him.  So that took a bit of a mind shift for me.

I could go on, but I’ve no desire to bore you guys to tears.  🙂

So yeah, it was a great week.  I left feeling pretty good about how much I learned, and about where I stand with my writing for now (though I know I’ve got a long ways to go).  It helped that Dean said he thought I was a really talented guy and that I’m off to a great start.  Nothing like a nice compliment from a world-class professional to make a guy feel good.  🙂

Now for the pictures!

The obligatory group shot. There I am, front row center. Fitting, don't you think?

There's Rebecca Senese with her new friend.

WMG Publishing's offices are awesome

More of the offices.

 

So that was two weeks ago.  This week, I spent in San Diego with my better half.  The Navy is moving us there next month, so we decided to piggy-back a house hunting trip onto the end of my workshop.  It was just as grueling a week as last week, and just as successful.  We now have a lease for a place in San Diego, on Point Loma, about 3.5 miles from where I’ll be working.  Perfect.  At that distance I can either ride my bicycle or run to work every day; no need to buy a second car.  🙂  Just what we wanted.

Right.  With that, we’re all caught up.  I’ll be back shortly with other things to discuss.  I realized it’s been a couple months since I did a sales update.  There’s nothing much to brag about, but as long as I started the trend, I should continue it.  Also I’d some feedback on more cover work.  So that’ll be coming soon.  But for now it’s just about time to board my plane.  Until later, then.  🙂