Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Thirty Years Old!

Now Playing: RISE by Hans Zimmer
Just Read: MISTBORN by Brandon Sanderson--The first of his novels I've read. Very entertaining, from beginning to end! An interesting and unique magic system that he obviously thought through very well. Good stuff!
Reading Now: LETHAL WHITE by Robert Galbraith

I'm thirty years old today!

People have talked to me about their own thirtieth birthdays and the feelings they had about being thirty. Namely, that they hadn't accomplished all they'd wanted to thus far. When it comes to my writing, that's true for me as well--I always thought I'd have a novel published by now.

But, I can't complain. I have done a lot of other things in my 30 years of which I'm very proud, like finding an awesome wife, finishing grad school and working as a nurse anesthetist, and writing multiple novels and countless short stories, even if none of the novels have been published yet. The truth is, the one I think is most publishable, I haven't queried yet because I think it still needs some tidying up. So, maybe after some editing, that dream will come true.

Until then, I'll keep doing what I'm doing--working my day job and writing as frequently as I can find the time and energy to do. I'm becoming a better writer by the day, even if I haven't published a ton of stuff recently. Word by word, I'm getting better.

Here's to the next decade! 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Summer Focuses

Now Playing: HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX by Nicholas Hooper
Just Read: ANCILLARY JUSTICE by Ann Leckie--A wonderfully fun concept around which an awesome space opera is built. Totally recommend this one! Pushes some awesome sci-fi thoughts.
Reading Now: MISTBORN by Brandon Sanderson

Summer is my favorite season. I always get a lot of reading done during the summer. Not sure why, but I think it has something to do with longer days and more time to spend by the pool, which I love to do while reading.

As always happens when I read a lot, I get encouraged to write more during the summer. This summer, I have a few plans. First, I'm 76,000 words into a novel called "Star Struck", the second in a trilogy I have planned. The first book,  Star Born, is finished, close to being worthy of sending out to agents.

But, I have a new idea in mind. A novel that's completely different, and one that is a bit closer to home. The story landed pretty much fully formed in my mind a few months ago, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it, even while working on Star Struck. So I think I'm going to go for it and begin it, even if it means working on two novels at once. I don't really have any fears that I'm going to let Star Struck languish unfinished, because I really enjoy the story, and picking up where I left off comes easily for me.

Hopefully this new novel comes as easily onto the paper as it did into my head.

And as always, I have stories in mind for the Writers of the Future Contest. Fortunately, the story I plan to submit by the September deadline already has a first draft completed. It'll be a purely editing project this summer, which I think will be a nice change from the pure prose construction that I'll be focusing on otherwise.

So many stories to write, so few summers in which to write them!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Stories Out of Control

Now Playing: BULLS ON PARADE by Rage Against the Machine
Just Read: DOCTOR SLEEP--A pretty typical Stephen King book, meaning slow pace and high build, with lots of good twists and turns and a very fleshed out world. Always enjoyable!
Reading Now: ANCILLARY JUSTICE by Ann Leckie

Well, that story I had such high hopes for in the Writers of the Future Contest didn't place. I had been on a streak of Honorable Mentions, but this one didn't even get that far. Too bad--I really thought it was pretty good. And when they published the long, LONG list of people who had won some level of award, it was a bit disheartening.

It's hard for me to tell my own story's quality. I find editing and improving stories very difficult. I never have a very good idea about what changes need to be made, and after making them, I can't usually tell if it really is better or not.

But, on to the next! That's the name of the game.

Lately I've had stories that want to go on and on, out of control. I might come up with a plot like "An unexpected chemical leak leads to violence among an exploration team" and try to sit down ad write a murder mystery. But I'm almost 9000 words into this mystery and it STILL isn't over. It's science fiction, so it might be a good candidate for Writers of the Future, but I didn't expect it to be this long, or take through May to finish.

I was hoping to do one story per month, but the stories for March and April have stretched so long that my word count is high but my story count is low. Now I'm thinking I might let them sit and chill for a while, then spend the rest of May and June editing them. My new words can go toward the novel I started in November, and when that's done, I have a different novel I want to work hard on the rest of the summer.

So. Many. Projects.

Gotta stay disciplined! That's key. I read an article lately about Danielle Steel's discipline, and my mouth fell open. She puts out seven new novels each year--that's the dream! Probably not ever achievable, but the lesson is clear: keep keep keep writing!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Now Playing: BUBBLE TOES by Jack Johnson
Just Read: IN A DARK, DARK WOOD by Ruth Ware--Greatly enjoyed this! I loved the aspects of memory and the mystery that produced. It was an interesting technique I might try to use in future stories.
Reading Now: DOCTOR SLEEP by Stephen King

March was a successful month. I finished a story at about 10,000 words, meeting my goal of one story per month so far in 2019. I also began forming an idea for April's story, and so far I am about 2000 words into it. I think I should be able to finish it by the end of the month. It's an old idea that I'm revisiting with a new perspective. It was originally an investigation into a murder, but this time around, I want the main character to have a lot more at stake.

I was also able to edit and submit a story to the Writers of the Future Contest, a story I had previously submitted but that was definitely too long--I cut out about 1500 words from the beginning with the aim of picking up the story's pace. We'll see if it worked.

And I haven't heard back from them about my first quarter submission, which is maybe a good sign?

I've been reading more as well. Somehow I've managed to have books in progress in multiple different categories--a non-fiction book on writing, a poetry collection, a short story collection, a novel, and a book on tape. When I was younger I never thought I would be someone who reads multiple books at once, but somehow I've become that. It was easy! And I'm enjoying every bit of it.

Here's to April being another successful month!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

February Foils

Now Playing: SHIMMER by Fuel
Just Read:  THE DETECTIVE by Roderick Thorp--Took me forever to get into this one, but ultimately I'm glad I read it, especially since the sequel was good, and the book that inspired the movie "Die Hard."
Reading Now: IN A DARK, DARK WOOD by Ruth Ware

February wasn't quite as successful as I had hoped.

I managed to write about 8000 words in February, which is good . . . except that those 8000 words didn't materialize into a completed story. It's almost done--hoping to finish it either today or tomorrow--but it means I fell short of my goal of one story per month.

I'm trying not to cheat too much, and to actually hold myself accountable for this goal. But I did write two stories in January . . . .

I feel like I've been reading a lot, editing a lot, but only writing new stuff here and there. I wish my "new-word" output was higher. Though taking a step back, 8000 words is actually a good amount when I'm working full-time and traveling a lot. I can't kick myself too much.

Just always wish it was more.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Editing Marathon

Now Playing: BARRACUDA by Heart
Just Read: THE FIREMAN by Joe Hill--Really, really enjoyed this one. I've liked all of Joe Hill's stuff. This one started strong, had a lull, then picked back up after a long, slow burn (pun intended).
Reading Now: THE DETECTIVE by Roderick Thorp

First, update: It's been a solid January, and I'm on track with my goals of writing and submitting one story per month. I submitted a story that earned an honorable mention in the WotF to another magazine. It got rejected, but I'm thinking of other places to send it. For January 2019, it looks like I'm going to get two new ones. Both flash fiction stories, but that's okay. I've been writing a lot on both a longer short story and a novel.

Today, though, wasn't about new stuff. It was about a story I wrote for WotF back in 2017. It didn't place, or win an honorable mention. But I've heard about such stories being editing, resubmitted, and winning, and since I'm far away from anything new being ready to send by the end of this quarter, I thought I'd tackle it.

It's long. Over 14,000 words. And it took me ALL DAY to get through it. I think editing my own stuff is the worst part about being a writer, the part that feels the most like work. It just isn't as rewarding as new composition, and I never know if changes I make actually improve the story or not. I have a hard time stepping back and saying, "This needs to be changed. This story needs a faster pace. This part of the story has to go because it doesn't contribute."

Today was a drag. I think the story is better, but I really have a hard time knowing. I think I'm going to put it away for a while and see if I can come back to it with fresh eyes, like I did today, and spot any errors in the story's trajectory. The prose is fine. But it's so long, I have trouble knowing if anything doesn't belong. I feel like it all belongs.

Gotta find a book on editing fiction . . . preferably, for dummies.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year Stuff

Now Playing: THE LORD OF THE RINGS SOUNDTRACK by Howard Shore
Just Read: SERAFINA AND THE BLACK CLOAK--Great book! Very fun story, and loved all the cat references. Having just visited the Biltmore, I loved the details.
Reading Now: THE FIREMAN by Joe Hill

It's a brand new year! A chance to set and achieve a ton of new writing goals, and I have plenty.

But I'm only going to set vague ones, in the hopes of having a greater chance of achieving them. In brief, they are: Write more. Edit more. Read more. Submit more.

I'll only get specific with one idea: to write and submit at least one story per month the way I did back in my Write1Sub1 days. That worked really well for me, left a lot of time for editing, and was doable. So, I'd like to bring it back. Additionally, I'd like to read 50 new books this year. The most I've ever read was 40, but I think 50 is a good goal. Also, I have a shelf of fiction magazines I'd like to read and recycle--hope to make some progress there in 2019.

This past year was a great one in a thousand ways, but as far as my writing goals, I maybe fell a bit short. I wrote four new stories and finished NaNoWriMo with a new 50K word manuscript (that's now about 60K). So, I did a good amount of writing, just not as much as I would like. I'm not beating myself up about it--I was a senior in grad school most of the year, starting a new job giving anesthesia during the rest of the year. But now that it's 2019, it's time to get more of a routine and figure out how to fit everything I'd like to write into my schedule.

I hope everyone has a blessed and productive 2019!