burning armchair

June Metrics

Metrics

Let’s get right to the numbers for June.

Total words: 41,250
Average per day: 1,331
Completed: one short story, one non-fiction book

“All for One,” one of the stories I wrote last month, has officially sold. It’ll be in Ragnarok Publishing’s MECH anthology later this year. They’ll be Kickstarting it in the fall, and I’m delighted to be part of one of their anthologies. They make massive tomes with lots of extra goodies.

The short story I finished this month is out as well. I just squeaked it in by the deadline. I doubt I’ll hear anything for several months. You write them, and then forget them: that’s the way it is with short fiction.

The big project for June was writing Jumpstart Your Novel, the non-fiction book that is the print version of the talk I’ve been giving off and on for the last few years. One of the take-home lessons from the last convention is that if you’re going to show up and talk process, you might as well have something interested parties can purchase. And I wanted to see how much stress I could put on both myself and my publishing infrastructure to get something out quickly. The book isn’t all that long, really, though it has more formatting quirks than your normal fiction book. I started writing at the beginning of June, and this afternoon I’ll be finishing up the layout. Darin Bradley knocked out the cover, like he does, and Neal Von Flue was gracious about finding room in his schedule to do the illustrations. All in all, I’m pleased with what we’ve accomplished in thirty days. I’ll put up another post in a few days when all the various buying links are active.

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I also did the layout myself, and will probably be doing the ebook conversion as well. I like knowing how to do things, and as these are part of the publishing chain, I think it’s important to understand the pluses and minuses of the technical work. I tell folks that self-publishing is mostly you taking the whole dollar for yourself and then deciding how much of that dollar you want to pay to other people. Sure, I can do the cover, layout, and conversions myself, but is that time well spent or is it more economical for me to simply pay someone else to do it, freeing up more of my time to actually write? If it costs me a couple hundred bucks, but takes three weeks, is that worth the delay versus me taking an afternoon and doing it myself?

Anyway, useful tools. It’s all about figuring out which tools you want to rent and which ones you want to own, right?

Getting this out of the way means that July can be spent working on a book. My new goal is to create something that people can buy every month. I’m still in that odd space of not having a book contract in hand, and Resurrection House is covering itself, but it’ll be another year or more before it becomes something that can provide beyond its own needs. So, I need to build some revenue streams.

Yes, I could go find a part-time job, I suppose, but that puts me in the position of writing, publishing, and working somewhere. That’s three things. I’ve done that before, and I can attest that one of the three suffers. If either publishing or writing are put in that position, then eh . . . what’s the point? A career that you’re not even attempting to do well yourself isn’t going to magically take off on its own now, is it?

So, I write. A lot. And I figure out new ways to find new audiences. It’s part of the job, right? I didn’t win the fiction lottery with my first book, so now it becomes a profession I have to work at. Fortunately, I like this sort of work, so there’s hope.

And speaking of writing, Clarion West is in session right now, which means the Clarion West Write-a-thon is going on. I went ahead and put myself up there this year, mainly for the sake of keeping someone on task with finishing SNAKE EYES in a timely fashion. I don’t expect anyone to pony up their pennies on my behalf, but if you are so inclined, Clarion West is where the next generation loses their innocence and gets hardened for the particularly character-building life that is being a creative.

Yeah, building character. That’s what it is all about. That’s what I tell my kids, anyway.

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May Metrics

Metrics

I spent Memorial Day weekend in Missoula, MT, attending MisCon, one of my favorite writer-friendly conventions. I did the Jumpstart Your Novel presentation again, and was harangued by the audience about the fact that I hadn’t turned that presentation into an actual self-help book yet. And so, I’ll be working on that this week, among other things.

Now that Resurrection House has gotten itself good and launched, I can spend more time working on my own writing again. The fingers are a bit stiff still, and the brain is a little dusty, but things are starting to sort themselves out in that regard. I’ve got some goals set, and am cranking away at them. Here are some metrics for those who are interested in those sorts of things.

May total words: 62,000
Average/day: 2,000
Completed: 3 short stories, one novelette, 30K on SNAKE EYES

The shorter pieces are off to various outlets. More news as their status changes. I got to 62K on SNAKE EYES and finally admitted to myself what the characters have been telling me for some time: it’s overly complicated and unnecessarily so. Back to the basics for me, and over the weekend, I managed to finally let go of some old story elements that were getting in the way of writing a crackling tale.

Sometimes I make this extra hard on myself, I know.

But, it’s June now. I’m pretty pleased with my progress for May. I’m not quite at my daily goal state, but 2K a day (on average) is a good start. I’d like to finish SNAKE EYES, the Jumpstart book, and get a few proposals and other stories done. This is life in the word mines. You just keeping plugging away.

[Picture taken by one of the three authors whose books are in that picture; I don’t recall who, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me.]

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Miscon, Out in Big Sky Country

Appearances

One of the presentations I did at the Creative Ink Festival was a new iteration on the Jumpstart Your Novel dog and pony show that I’ve been doing off and on for a few years now. Since CIF, I’ve done it a handful more times for a number of 8th grade classrooms. In each instance, I’ve had about an hour to pitch this new method of approaching story, and have had a chance to refine it down to a near-science. Or at least an entertaining hour discussion.

I’ll be doing it again at Miscon this year, out in Missoula next week. Though, we’ll be returning to the two-hour format where audience members are actually going to be plotting and outlining their new novels in the room with me. It’ll be fun. Really.

Miscon is turning 29 this year, and it’s my second time attending. It’s a great con, and Montana is—usually—done with all its cold weather by this time, and so it’s quite pleasant. The Miscon staff has paneled me up pretty well, and so if you’re in the area, here’s where you can find me.

Friday 4:00pm Creating the Brands of Tomorrow (Thunderdome Left) with John Picacio and Shawn Speakman. Three leading sf/f creatives will share why they created their own publishing houses, what they’re producing, what’s next, and where the next frontiers are.

Saturday 3:00pm Writing to Prompts (Upstairs Programming 3) with Brenda Carre, David Keck, and J. A. Pitts. Prompts are a great way to build and hone your craft, not to mention get published and win contests. In this panel we’ll learn how to write original, unique stories based on those prompts. We’ll also discuss how to know if you’ve strayed too far from the original concept.

Saturday 4:00pm First Page—Make or Break (Thunderdome Right) with Anne Groell, Andrea Howe, Shawn Speakman, and Patrick Swenson. Wherein the panelists will do live critiques of manuscript first pages to give the audience unparalleled insight into what can make or break a story before it even gets rolling.

Sunday 10:00am Author Signing (Thunderdome Right). Like it sounds. Not just me, but dozens of other authors too. Signing damn near anything shoved in front of us, though we prefer books with our names on them.

Sunday 12:00pm Elevator Pitches, Queries & Synopses (Thunderdome Right) with Anne Groell and Laurey Patten. Now, the official description is: “Panels on these subjects may be ubiquitous, but they’re important. Selling your book through one of these means is hard. In this panel, we’ll learn from authors and editors about how to craft the best pitch possible for your book or short story.” But I dislike writing synopses, so my superpower here will be turning everything into an elevator pitch, which I’ve gotten pretty good at. So, it’ll be entertaining.

Monday 10:00am Jumpstart Your Novel (Upstairs Programming 2). Yep. Two hour session. Bring something to write on/with. We’ll be busy.

Monday 1:00pm Organizing Story Ideas (Thunderdome Right) with Andrea Howe, S. A. Bolich, and Eldon Thompson. Writers usually have a tornado of ideas swirling in their heads at any one time. What do you do with all these ideas? How do you organize them? You might get them onto the page, but sometimes they don’t live up to what’s in your mind. What do you do then? What do you do when your ideas run wild? It’s easy to feel defeated. In this panel we’ll discuss how to organize those ideas into a coherent story and juggling expectation with reality.

Otherwise, I’ll be in the dealer’s area in the bookroom. Resurrection House and Fairwood Press will have tables along with all the other books that A Good Book Cafe will be bringing out to the con. I hear there are going to be some pretty cool books for sale this year. Definitely worth your time, and we don’t mind selling you some new reads.