Oregon Coast Anthology Workshop

I did not post here much in February.  Nor did I write much of anything in February.  Why?

Well, as you will recall from my January posts, I was writing a story per week for the Anthology Workshop up in Lincoln City, Oregon, put on by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.  I got all six stories written by the end of January.  But then I had to read all the stories.  As in, ALL the stories, written by all forty of the writers coming to the workshop: 240 stories in total, adding up to about 1.2 million words of fiction.

That’s a lot to read in one month.  Especially when you have a Navy job, a wife, four kids, sleep, and a desire to keep in shape at the same time.  As a consequence, I wrote nothing new last month.  And thus I really had nothing to tell you guys here on the blog.  Because the other thing is the rule of the workshop is no one is allowed to talk about the stories, in any way whatsoever, except for the panel of six editors who were buying for the anthologies.

Of course, there were more than six anthologies being made.  Yes, there were the six Fiction River anthologies that we wrote stories for.  But also, the latest Fiction River kickstarter funded an Editor Saves anthology, meaning a seventh Fiction River.  And there was also a secret surprise (not secret anymore because it’s been announced): Dean and Kris are bringing back Pulphouse, the magazine they used to run back in the 90s.  Dean’s the primary editor for it, and he was buying for it during this workshop as well.

So there was a lot going on last week.

Man, I had a ton of fun at the workshop.  And I learned a ton, too.

The first thing I learned was how quickly an editor HAS to get through a manuscript.  I mean, I knew they got tons of submissions, and had to make decisions quickly.  But it didn’t really sink in viscerally until I had to go through more than a million words in a month.  At first I knuckled down and tried really hard to read each and every story all the way through.  But then I realized 2 weeks had gone by and I was halfway through the second anthology’s submissions…and I had 4 anthologies to go.  After that, I found myself giving the stories a page, maybe two.  If they didn’t grab me in that time, I was off to the next one.

Which is what I’d been told editors do routinely.  That always struck me as a bit asshole-ish.  But when sheer practicality smacks you in the face like it did last month, you learn that there’s really no other way to go about it.

The other thing I learned is just how subjective all this Fiction stuff really is.  I mean, I knew it before, but it was enlightening to watch the six editors give their opinions on the various stories: how seldom they all agreed on what they liked and would buy and what they didn’t, and how seldom I agreed with them.

Also illuminating was how many truly wonderful stories were not purchased, just because the editor wasn’t sure how to fit them into the anthology, or because they didn’t meet the editor’s vision for the anthology’s tone.  The writer would most likely not hear that in the rejection letter: it would just be a “Sorry, this didn’t work.”  But it definitely showed how often rejection is not a comment on the quality of the story itself but more the vagaries or taste, or sometimes of something completely beyond the writer’s control (like the editor hates fairy stories but you had no way of knowing that, or the editor had already committed to buying a story with a very similar theme or feel from a NAME author to the one you submitted, and so the editor can’t buy yours too….things like that).  But writers often choose to view everything as a personal reflection of themselves as writers and as people.

Which goes to the narcissism of writers.  But that’s an entirely different topic, altogether.

Anyway, I got some good comments on my stories, and some good constructive feedback on them as well.  And as one day lead to the next I didn’t sell any.  Until Friday, when the story I wrote for Fiction River: Spies! came up.  I thought I had done a good job on this one, but I made the mistake of re-reading it the night before.  And immediately, I thought, “Oh crap, I didn’t put enough setting in.  Well, so much for that.”

Well, it came time for the feedback.  Dean said, “Man, this was smooth.  It just pulled me all the way through and it was completely satisfying.  I’d buy it.”  The other editors gave similar feedback, but three out of four had some criticism to offer.  And then it came to Kris, who’s editing the Anthology.  She said when she saw I was coming that she was hoping I’d write a story like this.  It held her and she liked it, but she put it on the maybe list because she wasn’t sure if she’d remember it.

But then that morning she went back through, and she remembered it completely.  So she bought it for the Anthology.

CHA-CHING!!!

In case you guys are keeping score (and judging by this website’s page hits, you’re not), that is my first professional fiction sale ever.

Needless to say, I felt very good about it.  I was grinning ear-to-ear, and I soaked up the applause that everybody gives to someone who makes a sale at the workshop.  Later, during the next break, I spoke with Dean, and he said, “You know, you just conquered probably the toughest editor on the planet.”  I hadn’t thought about it that way, but she is the only person to have won Hugos for both her writing and her editing, so he has a very valid point there, doesn’t he?

Yeah, that felt really good.

Which is not to say the week was completely fun and nothing else.  I was battling health issues the second half of the month.  In fact, I was diagnosed with pneumonia the weekend before I had to drive up to Lincoln City.  The Doc put me on bed rest for a couple days, and gave me a Z-pack (antibiotics) and some other meds.  But he said I would be ok to go to the workshop, so I went (I probably would have gone anyway, stubborn as I am, and maybe he saw that.  Or maybe not).  Regardless, the Z-pack did its job and I was pretty much all better when I started the drive up.  But man, Oregon is chilly compared with San Diego, and it was wet and damp all week.  I had a bit of a relapse the first few days.  But I got better, and by the time I left I was pretty much good to go.  Then I got back to San Diego and the cough got worse again.

Freaking changes in climate, I tell you.

Now the cough is down to the annoying dry, hacking, unproductive cough that I always get after a cold or other illness.  It generally lasts for a month or two, and there’s never anything the Docs can do about it.  A couple years ago, they diagnosed it as a form of asthma, actually.  Just something I have to deal with.

That’s the other reason I didn’t get any writing done last month: all that reading plus illness was a bad combination.

But getting back to the workshop, I had a ton of fun, even with the cough.  I learned a lot.  And I will have made some money, and a pro sale, out of it as wlel (not enough money to cover the expense of the journey…this time…but it was still worth it).  I’ve already asked Dean to pencil me in for next year’s workshop, and I fully intend to be there.  And since I’m done with the Navy in a few short months, there ought to be no reason I cannot go.

🙂

So that was my February, and the first several days of March.

I’ve got some more cool things to tell you guys.  But that will have to wait for another blog post.  This one is far too long already.

So until next time, have a great fun time, everyone.  Go read a story (make it one of mine though, will ya?  😉  ).  Hit the Patreon link below and send a brother a buck or two a month to keep doing what I’m doing.

And I’ll see you next time.

Bu-Bye!

🙂

 

Yeah, I Need Deadlines

Next month, I’m attending the annual Anthology Workshop that Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch put on each February in Oregon.  Basic premise of the workshop is they have several editors attending, and the writers are given assignments to write stories for 6 upcoming anthologies: 2 stories in December, 4 in January, one week to write each story.  Then we all send each other our stories and we all read them.  The editors read all the stories as well, and then at the workshop each editor tells why he or she liked or didn’t like each story, and then selects the stories he or she will buy for his or her anthology.  The anthologies are then published by WMG in the Fiction River series.

It’s a pretty cool deal.  I was going to attend the workshop last year, but I had to cancel because of changing work schedules for the Navy.  Not so this year: the schedule is set, my leave is approved, and I am going!

This week was the 5th assigned story.  Just like the other 4, I got it in before the deadline.  Just one more story to go, then the reading commences.

But here’s the thing.  I didn’t even start this story until about noon today, but I cranked it out (3,400 words) and had it in to Dean before 4pm.  I could have started it earlier in the week.  Should have, even.  But…I didn’t.  I did a lot of other things this week, but not that.

3,400 words for the day is pretty decent.  It’s far from the most words I’ve ever written in a day, though (I think that record is about 9,000 or so, but it’s been a while so I could be off a bit).  Now, what’s stopping me from writing that many every day?  Well, going to work for the Navy, working out, time with the kids and wife.  You know, real life.  But still, given I write between 1,500 and 2,000 words/hour, there really is not good reason why I can’t get at least 1,000 per day.

Right?

Reflecting back, I got all the stories written, on time, for last year’s anthology workshop as well, before I had to pull out.  I then promptly failed to get much other writing done in the year until the fall, when the deadline for Blaze‘s anthology loomed near.

Here we have yet another data point that I simply must have external deadlines, or i will slack the hell off.  That’s why I set up my Patreon page: another deadline that I have to make.

Going forward, I’m going to look for more ways to set external deadlines for myself – hard deadlines that I cannot just push arbitrarily.  So, I suppose I’d best start putting titles up on pre-order.  Can’t move the release date (with Amazon at least), and if you miss the deadline for uploading the final manuscript there are serious consequences from the bookstores, to say nothing about from the readers.

And I’m also going to work on methods to kick myself in the tail to just sit down and write.  Because, seriously, there’s no excuse to not have production.  The real question is how to do that, effectively and consistently.  The answer is simple, of course: discipline and accountability.

Clearly I need to alter my process to force more of the later, to help myself regain some of the former.  And I’m going to, so I can make 2017 a really awesome writing and publishing year.

🙂

That’s all for now, folks.  Until next time!

May Wrap-up

Hola amigos.

So the month’s just about done, and I figured I’d, as I have been the last few months, post a writing wrap-up.  Just because.

This one’s easy: I ain’t wrote a damn thing this month.

Not a word of new fiction.

And I don’t feel bad about that at all.  After all, I returned from almost 7 months away from home, got used to the family again, started back at my normal job, and generally was busy with real-life stuff.  So no guilt about not writing here: I had other important things to do that took priority.

I did finish some books, though.

Audiobooks:

  1. A Canticle For Leibowitz – Walter M Miller
  2. The Goblin Emperor – Katherine Addison
  3. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Written:

  1. The Legacy of Heorot – Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Steve Barnes (I actually finished this last month, but forgot to mention it)
  2. Ashes To Ashes, Dust To Dust, Earth To Alluvium – Gray Rinehart
  3. The Day The World Turned Upside Down – Thomas Olde Heuvelt
  4. The Parliament Of Beasts And Birds – John C Wright
  5. On The Spiritual Plain – Lou Antonelli

So not as much reading; most of those were novelettes and short stories.  But again, I’m no longer on deployment so I have more things to take up my attention.  I’m in the middle of a bunch of stories, of course.

Audiobooks In Progress:

  1. Dead Reckoning – Charlaine Harris

Written In Progress:

  1. In Hero Years, I’m Dead – Michael A Stackpole (I put this one on hold after WotF came out)
  2. Writers of the Future, Vol 31 – Various
  3. The Hugo Voters Packet – Various
  4. Smith’s Monthly #10 – Dean Wesley Smith
  5. Violence of Action – Marty Skovlund, Jr
  6. Colonel Roosevelt – Edmund Morris

I’ve got a LOT of stories that I’m stuck in the middle of.  Well, not stuck so much as on hold while I get Hugo reading done.  Better get on that, right?

All told, it’s been a good month.  Now that I’m back in the swing of life, I fully intend to get back into the swing of writing during this coming month.  Gotta get a story off to Writers of the Future by 30 June, after all.  😉

Oh yeah, I’m also just about ready to release Robbed Blind, the fourth book in my Glimmer Vale Chronicles series.  Just waiting on the cover art at this point, so probably it’ll be next month sometime.  Stay tuned for more.

That’s it for now.  Later, all.

Deployment Reading

I’ve been getting a lot of reading done on this deployment.  By reading, I mean both reading reading and audiobook listening.  They both count, because hey it’s the ingestion of books, right?

Right.

I haven’t gotten as much writing done in the last month and a half or so as I thought I would, partly because this time has been operationally more busy than the previous two months, but also because I shifted my focus away from getting words down to other things for a little while, reading included.  I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  It is what it is.  But I’m getting re-started on my writing habits again.  If all goes well, I’ll have at least two more books finished by the time I get home at the end of April.  Or maybe one and a half.  😉

But anyway, I figured I’d take a couple minutes and list all the books I’ve gone through since I left home at the end of September, both because I feel like sharing and because I know there’s been a lot but I’m not entirely sure how many and I’m curious to count it up.

So, Audiobook first:

  1. The Dummy Line – Bobby Cole
  2. The Gravy Train – David Lender
  3. The Mote In God’s Eye – Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
  4. Gabriel: Zero Point – Steve Umstead
  5. The Accounting – William Lashner
  6. World War Z – Max Brooks
  7. Watership Down – Richard Adams
  8. The Passenger: Surviving The Dead – James Cook
  9. From Dead To Worse – Charlaine Harris
  10. The Jester: A Riyria Chronicles Tale – Michael J Sullivan

Written books:

  1. Decision Points – George W. Bush
  2. Monster Hunter International – Larry Correia
  3. Warbound – Larry Correia
  4. Writers of the Future, Vol 30 – Various
  5. A Dance With Dragons – George R R Martin
  6. Winning Low Limit Hold ‘Em – Lee Jones
  7. The Theory of Poker – David Sklansky
  8. Hold ‘Em Poker for Advanced Players – David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth
  9. Dead Money – Dean Wesley Smith
  10. The Chaplain’s War – Brad R Torgersen
  11. Big Boys Don’t Cry – Tom Kratman
  12. The Big Ship and the Wise Owl – Sarah Hoyt
  13. Freehold – Michael Z Williamson
  14. One Bright Star To Guide Them – John C. Wright
  15. An Answer From The North – Sarah Hoyt
  16. Smilla’s Sense Of Snow – Peter Hoeg

That’s a pretty good list.  I’m currently listening to:

  1. The Legend of Drizzt – R. A. Salvatore

And currently reading:

  1. Colonel Roosevelt – Edmund Morris
  2. Monster Hunter Vendetta – Larry Correia

On my plate for future audiobooks:

  1. Dead And Gone – Charlaine Harris
  2. Eternity Base – Bob Mayer
  3. The Damnation Game – Clive Barker
  4. The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch
  5. Jumper – Steven Gould
  6. The Bourne Identity – Robert Ludlum
  7. The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Stories – Edgar Allan Poe

Future written books:

  1. Flow – Arlan Andrews, Sr
  2. Veil Of Lies – Jeri Westerson
  3. The Legacy of Heorot – Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Steven Barnes
  4. The Disappeared – Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  5. Swarm – B V Larson
  6. In Hero Years, I’m Dead – Michael A Stackpole
  7. Awake In The Night Land – John C Wright
  8. The Nelson Touch: Ark Royal II – Christopher Nuttall
  9. Darkship Thieves – Sarah Hoyt

There are many others in the TBR corner of my Kindle, but those are the ones I intend to get through first.  I’m actually surprised; I thought I’d listened to more audiobooks than that.  But then, I also listen to a lot of podcasts too.  That’s how I keep my mind entertained while I’m working out, or during my evening cigars on the weatherdecks, or if I’m just roaming around on deck working on my tan (yes, for the first time in my life I’ve actually been able to grow and keep a tan, and without becoming a lobster first!  I’m amazed and trilled.).

So that’s what I’ve been up to.  Not a bad four months’ work, I think.  Tell you what, I’ve enjoyed all of these books, to one extent or another.  Can’t say any of the books on the “have been read” lists did not agree with me, to one degree or another.  Hopefully, those on the TBR lists will as well.  Not sure if I’ll get through all of them before I return home in two months (probably not), but I’ll definitely make a big dent in the stack, that’s for sure.

Later, folks.  Go read lots of books – some suggestions are off to the right.  😉

Marketing and Pricing

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’m presenting my stories, from a marketing and pricing perspective, and I’ve decided to make a few changes.

First, let’s talk Pericles.

I’ve been wondering for a while whether I chose correctly about its price point.  $7.99 is a very reasonable price – below typical mass market paperback prices.  But I’ve been wondering whether people read Passing In The Night, like what they’ve seen so far, and move on to Pericles…only to be stymied by that price, since it is above what a lot of other people ask for their books.  Maybe I’m just being silly; sales have been creeping along pretty steadily, after all.  But creeping is the operative word.  So I figure what the heck.  A little experimentation can’t hurt.  So I’ve dropped the price down to $5.99.  We’ll see how that does for a few weeks.

Second, short stories.

At first, my policy was $.99 for short stories, with prices rising from there.  But in the spring of 2012 at the workshop with Dean Wesley Smith up in Oregon, we talked about a pricing idea that I thought was neat: combine two shorts together, with story B as a bonus if you buy A and story A as a bonus if you buy B, and charge $2.99 for that.  Nice, huh.  A little extra value.  So I went with that.  The results have been ok I guess.  But then in the last year or so I haven’t put out many short stories, so…  *shrug*  But a couple months ago, another writer on a mailing list I belong to reported getting warning emails from Amazon for doing just what I have, saying the two products are essentially the same, so he shouldn’t have two separate listings up for sale.  And thinking about it, that makes sense.  So I think I’m going to de-double the short story listings.  Of course, if I do that, I’m not going to feel comfortable charging $2.99 for them.  Novelettes and above?  Sure, no problem.  But for a short story?  No.  So, I’m going to drop short stories back to $.99 and go from there.

Finally, Glimmer Vale.

As you all know, Out-Dweller was released about three weeks ago, to rave reviews and the adulation of the masses who were eagerly awaiting it.  🙂  Or not.  In truth, Glimmer Vale, though selling a trickle when it first came out, has been essentially dormant for the last year or so.  So frankly I’m not surprised Out-Dweller hasn’t made much of a splash yet.  So how to help it splash?  Well, I’ve found making Passing In The Night free helped keep Pericles rolling; I’m quite certain were it not for people picking up the prequel, Pericles would not be selling even at its current trickle.  Because what would point people to it?  Given that, I’ve begun the process to make Glimmer Vale free in all outlets.  Now, based on her post today, I suspect Kris Rusch might not agree with this decision.  Or maybe she would.  As it is, Glimmer Vale is generating little or no value, from a cash flow perspective (16 sales in about 18 months….yeah not so good).  But if making it free draws more eyes to the series, and enough of those eyes like what they see, it could be a very good thing.  At the least, it can’t be worse than what’s happening now: nothing.  Of course, there’s always the possibility that Glimmer Vale is just no good, in which case making it free won’t help at all.  But I rather think it doesn’t suck.  So here’s hoping some more visibility does the trick.

Right.  That’s it for now.

Thoughts?  Questions?  Concerns?  Snarky witticisms?  You know what to do.

 

Oh yeah, one last thing.  I’ve not been particularly good at pimping my newsletter signup.  But see that little link in the upper-right of my sidebar?  It’ll take you to the signup form.  The newsletter will announce new releases, special deals, giveaways, and other fun things.  I won’t spam you – just one message a month or so.  So go ahead and sign up.  As a sweetener, you’ll receive a coupon code for a free copy of Masters of the Sun, my first novel.  Hard to say no to that, right?  🙂

Developments and Developments

Well, it’s been a while since I posted.  I’m totally not keeping up with my stated goal of at least once a week.  Here’s the thing.  Monday comes along and I get to thinking, I need to update my blog with this week’s writing numbers.  Then I get caught up in family stuff or just, you know, writing, and I don’t do it.  Next thing I know it’s Thursday, and then it’s stupid to update last week’s numbers because this week is almost done, so I put it off.

Consequently, I end up not posting at all.

And no, this is not on account of being embarrassed by my writing output lately.  Granted, that output sucks.  But I’m not afraid of the truth.

Really.

🙂

So what’s been going on?

Well, I ran another triathlon, the San Diego International Triathlon.  It hurt.  It was fun.  You know, what you would expect.  Somehow, despite the fact that the run portion of the course was completely, 100%, flat, I was slower than at the OC Triathlon, with its Godawful hills.  How is that possible?  Because I screwed up my nutrition plan during the bike portion, that’s how.  I basically drank and ate nothing on the bike, and that smacked me silly during the run.  It was literally the slowest 10k I’ve ever run.  But that’s ok.  The last couple miles, I ran with a dude with one leg who was having difficulty.  His wife met him about a third of a mile from the end and I bid him adieu until the finish line, but after keeping him psyched up for the last bit of the race, I had a better perspective on things.  However badly I did that day, it could be a lot worse.  And frankly if I’d lost my leg in a construction accident like that I did I’m not sure how psyched I would be to compete in triathlons.  So hats off to him.

On the writing front, progress is proceeding on Glimmer Vale 2.  I contracted with Jim Beveridge, through Lucky Bat Books, to do the cover for it.  He’s the guy who did the cover for Glimmer Vale, so you know it’ll be awesome.  Now I just have to finish the dang thing.

But not this week.  Last week, I got editorial comments back from a third beta reader for The Pericles Conspiracy.  Armed now with all that, I’ve spent the last several days fixing typos and clearing up plot holes in ye old massive tome.  I also did more cover work.  I tweaked the fonts on the ebook cover design a bit, and made a wrap-around for the print version.  Behold!

The Pericles Conspiracy Cover

 

 

Pericles Paperback

 

So things are shaping up for Pericles.  🙂  I intend to have the book released within the next week or two, in both trade paperback and ebook formats.  Stay tuned.

In other good news, it looks likely that I’ll be in the Mysterious Galaxy local authors meet and greet, probably next month.  Or at least sometime this fall.  I went by the store the other day to get some more books for my kids and flashed my fancy new author business card.  And they were like, “Dude, you’ve been a great customer and the manager knows you, we’d love to have you come out.  Why aren’t we selling your books already?”  So maybe I waited a bit too long to “out” myself as a local writer.  But I didn’t want to be the jackass who swaggers in and demands that they carry his books.  I wanted to be a good customer before I asked anything of them.  Not just for self-serving reasons, but because that seemed the courteous thing to do.  Looks like it’s going to pay off.

Right.  I’m signing off now.  I’m participating in another online workshop that Dean Wesley Smith is giving, and the first weeks’ videos are up.  I’m going to watch me a few before I hit the sack.

Until next time, be well everyone.  Cheers.

🙂

2013 Writing Goal – Week 14

Came close this week.  Observe:

Week 14

Of course, close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.  But in this case I got 5,520 word written instead of 7,500.  That’s still pretty decent.  You’ll note from the graph that I didn’t really do much of anything until Friday, so the fact that I got that much down is actually quite encouraging.

So 14 weeks down, and I got to a bit over 62,000 words on the year.  Not too shabby.  But that means I’m 1/4 of the way through the year and about 1/5 of the way to my goal.  So I’m definitely behind.  🙁

On the bright side, I’m now past 90,000 words on The Pericles Conspiracy.  So close to being done, and yet so far.  These last few chapters feel like they’re dragging, partly because I want to be done so badly and every instant I’m not done feels like a year, and partly because I know exactly where I want to go but how to get there is rather fleeting.  This always happens, but it’s still annoying.  🙁  Nothing to do but push through it, right?  And so I shall.

On another bright side, I started an online workshop with Dean last week: Pitches and Blurbs.  I had planned to go up to Oregon in July for his and Kris‘ new Masters class, but budget and schedule (my wife’s best friend is getting married around the same time as the workshop) are conspiring against me, so I had to bow out.  Instead I’m doing two online workshops: this one and one on Openings, starting next month.  So far it’s going pretty well, and I’m learning some good stuff.  It’s not as cool as actually being there in Lincoln City, but it’s still good.  So I’ll take it.  🙂

Right.  That’s about it for this update.  Hope all y’all in internet-land are doing well.  Until next time!

 

Silence Like A Cancer Grows…

Yeah, I’m feeling a little bit saucy.  Hence the play on Simon and Garfunkel in the title of this post.

It’s been a while since I last posted anything.  And a lot’s happened in the interim.  So why haven’t I talked about it?  Ehh.  Or rather, meh.  No idea.  Didn’t feel like it?  I was doing other things?  Both? 🙂  Regardless, I’m back posting now, so all five of you who come around to read my musings can be happy again.  🙂

So….current events.

  1. I mentioned this before, but what the heck, it bears repeating.  I had another kid!  🙂 Or rather, my wife did.  I delivered him, though.  No, seriously.  When our daughter was born, almost five years ago (her birthday is the 26th), we had her at Wentworth Douglass Hospital in Dover, NH.  They are awesome.  State of the art, progressive (in the good way, not the political/economic way), and just all around cool.  Their birthing center was ridiculously nice, and comfortable, and…  You get the point.  Well, they made a point of letting dads assist in the actual delivery if they wanted, as opposed to them standing back, trying not to get their fingers crushed as their wives squeezed on their hands, and feeling helplessly useless.  So naturally, I was all over helping the midwife pull little Sibylla out when she arrived.  Talk about wicked cool.  For the first two boys, though, the hospital staff essentially gave me the Heisman, except they did let me cut the cord.  Yippee.  Not.  ‘Cause that’s not nearly as cool as doing the delivery.  Well, little Kiran (that the new guy’s name) we had at the Naval Hospital here in San Diego.  When they asked if we wanted anything, I piped up that I wanted to deliver.  And awesome of awesome, they said, “Sure!”  So as soon as the Doc got the head and shoulder positioned right, I got the nod, took hold, and voila!  I got to pull him out.  🙂  And then after the cord blood collection, I played with the placenta a little.  😛  Well…ok, I didn’t play with it.  But dude.  It may be the Engineer and the nerd in me coming out, but seriously, if you’ve never seen a placenta before, you’re missing out.  They are really cool.  😉  So anyway, our clan now consists of 4 kids (I say now, but this happened in the middle of September so it’s not all that recent.  Sorry).  And we’ve decided four is enough, so we took steps to ensure we don’t have to worry about it, if you know what I mean.
  2. Of far less importance, but still cool, I heard back from Writers of the Future regarding my 3rd quarter submission.  Honorable Mention.  Again.  Now that’s pretty cool.  But it makes 3 HMs now.  And granted, this one is from a new judge, since David Farland took over.  But I would really really like to bust over the HM hump into the higher categories, one of these days.  You know: semi-finalist, finalist.  Winner.  Oh well, only one way to do that: keep writing and submitting.  So I guess I’ll go ahead and do that.  🙂
  3. I’m doing NaNoWriMo again.  Last year, if you recall, I wrote Glimmer Vale for NaNo.  I had toyed with writing Glimmer’s sequel this year.  But instead I decided to just crank out short stories.  I did this for a couple reasons.  First, that was what I said I was going to do way back at the beginning of the year.  Second, on the Yahoo Group for writers who have attended Dean and Kris‘ workshops, they have this thing called Club 25 going on: a challenge to epublish 25 titles this yes.  Well I’m currently at ten, but I figured if I could crank out ten 5,000 word stories in November, I could totally catch up.  And three, I kind of fell off the writing wagon for a few months there, between moving to San Diego, settling into the new job, and welcoming a new kid.  I figured NaNo would be a great way to jumpstart myself.  🙂  So…how’s it going?  Well, so far the shorts are all novelettes.  And I’m lagging.  At present I’m something like 9,000 words behind.  So I’m beginning to doubt I’ll get to the 50,000 word mark for the month.  Unless I get a couple 5,600 word days down like I did last year.  Which is possible, so I’m not out of it yet.  🙂  Regardless, I’ll have finished a number of good stories this month so it’ll be a win either way.  And it’s been fun, so that’s what matters.  🙂
  4. I discovered some cool music.  This guy calls himself Miracle of Sound, and he writes songs based on games, movies, you name it.  His songs are quite fun.  I picked out two of my favorites to share with you.  The first is inspired by Skyrim, the second by Dragon Age 2.  Check them out, then go to YouTube and give the guy a like or six; he deserves it.  You can also buy his music from his website, quite reasonably.  
  5. My friend J E Medrick (you may recall I sung her praises for her first novel, Shackled, a while back) released a new novella the other day.  Youth is a great story about a prescription drug that will restore the elderly to youth and vigor, but at a price: everyone who takes Youth dies within a month.  Now, I’ve only read about half of it, because that’s all she sent me.  But it’s a fascinating concept, well executed.  I recommend you check it out.

That’s about it on the news front.  All in all, things are going pretty well.  I’m beginning to think about my goals for next year, and to evaluate how I did this year.  To be brief: not so good.  That writing hiatus in the summer and early fall really did in a number of my goals.  But that’s ok.  Life rolls happen, and these rolls were good ones, so I’m not going to beat myself up.  I am going to change my methodology for next year, though.  Enact a bit more nerd-ness and statistical tracking, that sort of thing.  It’s going to be great.

So I think I’m going to let you go with that.  I firmly intend to get back to posting with greater regularity, now that things are, more or less, settled here in my world.  Until then, here’s hoping all y’all in internet land have fun.

Just remember what I tell my kids: everyone likes a wino, but no one likes a whiner.  Moral of the story: when in doubt, drink more.  😛

 

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.  🙂

Travel Time

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I fly out to Oregon for Dean and Kris‘ Character Voice and Setting Workshop.  It runs from Saturday afternoon through the following Saturday, and I’m pretty much certain I won’t have any time to update things here.  Nor will I want to, because I’m going out there to work on improving my writing, not to screw around on the web.  🙂  The workshop should be fun.  I’ll have a play-by-play after I get back.

But I don’t want all y’all to be bored while I’m away, so here are a couple cool things to check out in the meantime.

1) The Piano Guys

If you aren’t acquainted with these guys, you should be.  They are extremely talented musicians.  And the things that guy does with his cello!  Wow!

2) Skyrim

Yeah yeah, I know.  Everyone loves it, and everyone’s addicted to it.  I am too.  But if you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months and haven’t checked it out, here’s a taste of what you’ve been missing.

Yeah.  Totally kick-ass.

Well, that’s all I’ve got so I’m going to sign off.  It’s getting toward 2300 now and we’re about to head out for the midnight showing of The Hunger Games.

Yeah, I really went there.  That really happened.  😛