Mile Markers

Hello spring. It’s good to be here again. Last time we sat on the edge of the hot season we were still struggling to get our gears rolling in terms of projects, goals, and desires for the exciting new year; the year I was given a chance to make my dreams a reality. On March 16, 2016, I started the latest draft of the novel Draco Artifactium: Doppelganger. March 23, 2017, 121,468 words, 372 days, and many outline revisions later, I finished it. I can’t tell you the jubilation I feel from this marker.

That’s draft one, though, and we’re not ready to go into production. Not yet at least. The current goal is to go through the second draft corrections before May, and after that a dialogue pass before I send the manuscript to an editor. I expect things to be brutal as this is the first book I’m letting someone edit, and I don’t know how thick my skin is on that side. I know the book needs it as I’m far from the best at grammar, but I know I’ve told a wonderful story. We’ll cover the process more in future updates, but know I’m not just shoving the book out and hoping it’s good enough. It isn’t yet, and I’m willing to do the work to make sure it does.

On the podcast front, I am officially part of three podcasts again. Hiddengrid is doing okay, although I had declared I was going to start doing two episodes a week there. That’s actually not doable with my schedule and work flow. It just isn’t and so I’m unofficially announcing it here the end of the twice weekly show, and later this week I’ll announce it on the Hiddengrid’s various networks. Seize The GM is doing amazing. We had our first interview with Ben Loomes, creator of Syrinscape. Solid RPG soundscape program there; I highly recommend it and the interview that’ll come out later this month. Derek and Joules have been doing great with their work over there and I’m happy to be helping them out as a co-host. Finally, The Trans-Dimensional Café is back. I know, I know, it’s a seven year old beast that won’t stay down, and for that I’m thankful. Dakota is back as host in this iteration, and we’ve got a new podcasting voice along for the ride, Bryan Hessee. We’re retooled the show back to its roots of being about creatives doing their thing before gabbing about whatever, and I think overall while it’s still got growing pains the show is doing great. Again I’ll go over each of these in more detail in the coming weeks.

As it’s the start of a new quarter it’s good to look back over the previous update post to see where we are in terms of our goals. First, we didn’t hit the deadline of February 14th for the finish of the first draft. A month and a half late there. We won’t hit the April publication deadline either, and certain private circumstances will prevent me from saying the I want to be published by the June 1st goal I’d like. Instead, if I need to put down a goal date, I’m going with July 25th. It’s a fairly special day for me, and an ideal day I can gift the new book to someone. We don’t have any short stories written, so if we’re going to reach 10 by the end of the year, we need to get jumping. Same with a second book. We also didn’t return to weekly blog posts. This post is the correction to that. Expect them more often although I’m not posting the schedule I have just yet. I need to be sure it’s the right timing for the various blogs I want to post to. Finally I haven’t read a single book this year. So much for 26 by the end of it.

We’re going to call it there. It’s good to be back at this blog. I’m hoping I have the drive to keep working on all of these projects without losing interest. I just need to make sure I keep up with the momentum and not let anything hold me back.

Hello You Beautiful New Year

There’s a lot of weirdness we’re pulling away from as we leave 2016 behind; a crazy election year, a heavy focus on the passing of celebrities, new life being brought back into old words, and chances to grow and expand in our lives. I’ve been altered heavily over the past twelve months (for better or worse), and the next dozen are terrifying. The change, the loss, the creation, and the opportunity to forge a new year is scary when the road is open to you. But I think it’s important to pause and look back at some of the largest events of the past year before we dive forward into what 2017 may bring us.

The two biggest events for me in 2016 took place in the birth of summer and the birth of winter. Through March to May of last year I and several other gamers rebooted Hiddengrid. June saw the release of our Patreon, our first Season 3 episodes, and the first real income of the year. It’s been a slow burn these past seven months but I’m happy to see the folks supporting us. We’ve only missed a few weeks, and with good reason considering the next big 2016 event, but overall, I’m proud of the work we’ve done. Our episodes are shorter, more focused, and we’ve got a strong group of gamers supporting us. Like before though, not everyone can keep with the episodes long term.

The other big event took place two weeks ago. My dear friend, writing partner, and creative consultant, Andrew Eckhart, passed away sometime in the morning hours of December 21, 2016.  Andrew was the author of Last Mage: The Interview, a fun, Whovian-esque novel he wrote as part of a serial fiction challenge. The two of us raced on writing projects while he wrote that book. I finished my draft of the Key Worlds novel, Rebin, before he finished Last Mage, but of those two works only one of them is published. Andrew was a major inspiration to me, and there’s not a piece of fiction I’ve written since we met in 2009 that didn’t have some impact from him. We worked on podcasts together ranging from the Trans-Dimensional Café to two seasons of the Hiddengrid. We gamed together, wrote together, and challenged each other to greater heights. 2017 was supposed to be his year as he was planning on taking two-three months off the day job to focus on writing. This week would have been the two of us working on writing sprints together, but those dreams are scattered. I’m flying solo now.

It’s time to look ahead. 2017 needs to be a year of transformation and beginnings. The early part of the year will see the publication of my first book. The current goal is Valentine’s day, February 14, 2017. I’m only a few chapters away at this point from finishing the first draft and ideally, I’ll have it completed by the end of next week. The update post next Tuesday will let you know if I’m on track with that. I’ll also working on new short fiction and possibly flash fiction once the first draft of Doppelganger is completed. By this time in April I expect to have increased my fiction offers to reach a novel, two short stories, and possible a collection of previous works. I’m iffy on that last bit. By the end of the year I want a second novel and at least ten short stories available to buy. I’ve already got pricing ready, I just need to write the damn things.

Beyond writing, podcasting will see a spark of activity in the coming weeks. Hiddennode posts will become a weekly thing again, although those will mostly reflect these weekly blog posts. Hiddengrid has some plans for the second quarter but for the next three months we’re looking at keeping the status quo. I’ll also be generating more content for Seize the GM, so head over there to you want to see some more of my RPG focused writing. I’ve been told my “stat blocks” for the podcast are a bit larger than the show can handle, so I’ll be writing shorter ones for the podcast and longer ones for the blog posts.

Finally, one of the aspects I’ve been missing from my 2016 activity has been reading and reviewing fiction. I’ve been bad about getting into other books and I need to take part in the writing from others if I’m going to improve my craft. In 2015 I had taken time started to work on studying other novels from a craft perspective but for some reason I stopped when I started to write full time. Now’s a good year to change that. I’d like to resolve to read 26 novels this year. More would be ideal but I think one every two weeks is a reasonable goal.

Status Report – July 2016

It’s the first second Monday of the Month and that makes it update time.

The end of the second quarter brought many interesting changes in terms of focus for my projects. The first five months of the year were aimed initially at writing, specifically the Draco Artifactium novel and lore works, but June ripped those plans to shreds. While the book work is important, Hiddengrid: The Sixth World Chronicles took the reins. I didn’t realize just how much effort would be needed and spent on the project but I’m happy for it. It doesn’t hurt that the Patreon support for the month old project has already doubled my income, but the immediate feedback and interest from the community has been a major shot in the arm to keep me developing.

In regards to the writing it suffered heavily during June. Hours spent editing audio and recording shows took precious time away from the writing work, but it was time well spent as I now have a solid foundation to work off of. Now I have the ability to get back to work on the Novel and the lore of Draco Artifactium. I’ve even started a new site to help with that, which can be found here. We’re working towards a new lore project regarding this world, and for the next twenty days we’ll be cooking up scripts for a podcast series for the Dog Days of Podcasting 2016. I’ll be spending 30 days reading and exploring the lore of the world as I inject the information back into my headspace. The current goal is between 20-30k words for this project, and hopefully many of them can transition directly into the novel itself. I’d also like to set a personal goal of 20-30k for continued work on the novel as progress there must continue.

That’s really the bulk of it. It’s been a Hiddengrid heavy month. Not much else has happened in terms of projects. There’s musing on the horizon about something involving a Mr. Eckhart and a dream he has. More as that come us.

Okay, grading time:

Writing: I get an F. It was a bad month for it and I need to get back on the horse. That’s two months in a row with a low grade.

Patreon: Solid A. This month has seen some explosive growth and I hope I can keep some of the momentum rolling.

Podcasting: Solid A. Between the Hiddengrid and the launching of Seize The GM, I’m really ahead of the curve. I’ve keep weekly posting for the Hiddennode, except last week when the holiday threw off that schedule a bit. Hiddengrid had no interruptions.

July Goals:

  • 20 k for the novel
  • Complete prep work for the lore project, RE:DDoP
  • Continue productivity with the Hiddengrid
  • Start looking at the special project scripts.
  • Get at least 25% more patrons

I think June turned out well but we can make July a better month.

 

Status Report – June 2016

It’s the first Monday of the month, and that makes it update time.

The second month of quarter two and we’ve reached a level of productivity and not meeting goals; it’s a weird balancing act I’d rather wish I wasn’t performing. No new Patrons, and nothing to sell. Productivity in May reached 19,168 words, roughly 30-40k shy of my goal. It was a lot of mixed days, and a lot of missed days after I reached the first milestone of the book. Something about that threw me for a loop and I’d point to the fact this is strange territory for me. The first third of the book has been written before at least twice, so getting here again and looking at the wide field of parts two and three I think shook me up a bit. It’s not an acceptable excuse, but there it is. So we’re once again shooting for 50-60k in June. Six days in we’re at 951. That leaves 49,049 words to peak for the month at 2,044 words a day. That’s a word count I can do so long as I get my ass in gear and write. Current grade for the novel writing: D

I’m still a solid D for Patreon support. I need to be doing more to draw people in and give them something worthwhile. That’s not really going to happen though until I get my books out there. Current grade for Patreon support: D

Follow up on the quest giver system leaves me wondering about its effectiveness. It has served me with reminding me of goals and objectives, but I find I’m not quite hitting the stride I wanted to get with it. I tend to do major pushes on a bunch of quests then wander off for a week or two before I look at it again. I think that clearly means I need to look at how it fits into my routine and maybe make it the first thing we do each day. If the quests are dynamic, meaning I can write them on the fly, I may be more likely to keep with the projects I want to be working on while giving me a chance to track my progress. I did reach level 2 in 2 classes though, so I got that going for myself. I did have a goal of gaining a level in all of my classes though; currently I am behind on Word Wrangler. If it weren’t for that, we’d have an A. Current grade for Quest Giver project: B

I’ve been doing really solidly with the podcast, all three of them actually. Hiddennode looks great with its new theme. I’ve posted each week on schedule since the last announcement, although I still need to post today’s content. Hiddengrid officially relaunched today, and I’ve started development on improving how that sounds and feels. Seize the GM is also under development and should be launching soon. Overall the productivity within my Audiogineer tasks has been spectacular. Current Podcasting Grade: A+

So our June goals:

  • 50k for the novel.
  • Continue the good work with Hiddennode
  • Get Hiddengrid
  • Gain a level in all of my classes.
  • Start looking for a theme for the writing site.

June sits in the middle of great preparations. Podcast mechanics are down. The book’s information is ready. Theme and quests are good to go. It’s up to me to make this the best month of the year to date.

Status Report – May 2016

It’s the first Monday second Tuesday of the month, and that makes it update time.

A month into quarter two and things are coming along nicely. No new Patreon members and nothing to sell yet, but the biggest project pushing forward. Last month I wrote 34,077 words, mostly in part to the spreadsheet created as part of The Roundtable Podcast. Shout out to Nobilis Reed for maintaining the doc. While the total word count was 16k shy of the 50k I wanted for April it was still a larger word count than I managed in the first quarter. I’ve set my sights on 60k for May, and I’m sitting at 11,753 as of this morning. A touch behind but far more productive than I’ve been. The novel now sits around 44K after some cuts, and if everything goes the way I’d like it to today we should be finished with Part 1 tonight. Quite happy about that. Current grade for novel writing: B

The mega-focus on the novel has slowed our production of flash fiction. By slow I mean a dead stop. I’m not super happy about that but in the grand scheme of things I think the major project writing is more important. Patreon supporters, I’ll make it up to you as soon as the first draft is done. Current grade for Patreon support: D

We have a new initiative started this month. I posted a teaser about the Quest Giver concept last week. The concept is to help me stay on task with projects but to also have a little fun with creating a gimmick. I love role-playing, gaming, and all those aspects of entertainment and I love the idea of using those to help me be more productive in my creative world. The Quest Giver concept has me working towards goals, earning experience for certain classes, and earning tokens for overall quests completed. The system is designed to earn me a level every four quests, and I’ll also be working on an achievement system which will earn me 10% of the experience needed for my next level. Quests are tasks like completing an outline for a book, reaching a milestone in a book, getting up a theme for the podcast, creating more quest tokens, etc. These earn experience for each of the three current classes which are Dungeon Master, Word Wrangler, and Audiogineer. I have another fourth class in development but that’s for another time when I can focus on such projects. As we generate the theme for the two blogs, we’ll create a place to see what quests are coming up and what quests are completed. A large part of the Dungeon Master class centers around creating those tools. Current grade for potentially useful but weird projects: A

Speaking Audiogineer, I failed last month to get back to podcasting. Just let that one slid too long I guess. With the creation of the new system to keep me on track I should have a more active reminder that I need to stay on top of the posting. I don’t think a daily podcast will be the best bet for me. Rather going towards a weekly format will allow me the best method of staying honest, keeping topics in mind to talk about, and just in general keep me from burning out. Current grade for Podcasting: F

So our May goals:

  • 60k for the novel.
  • Get back to weekly podcasting.
  • Gain a level in all of my classes.

Oh, and one more thing:

WW-001-04

Yeah, that’s about right.

The Missing Short Fiction

There’s a certain lack of flash fiction going up the last few days. I think we’re at the start of week two of the problem, and it’s not ending any time soon.

Where is the flash fiction?

Why have you forsaken us the slivers of fiction delivered thrice weekly?

I want to know what is happening in that serial piece!

Where is my ham?

Okay, I can’t help you with that last bit but I can explain what’s going on with the rest of the questions. So where is the flash fiction? Well currently all of those words are being poured into the novel project. I’ve been behind on this since January, and frankly since the sale of Novels is meant to be my primary source of income I need to double down on production. The 1,000 words going into flash each day are now going into the novel. That basically means I’m getting the bonus writing time equivalent to an extra day and a half of writing each week. That’s a lot. That means the novel is likely to be done a week or two earlier, and that translates to the book getting published earlier. You see where I’m going with this?

I haven’t forsaken the flash fiction, but in all honesty it’s had to take a back seat. I promise it will return in full once the first draft of the novel is done. I also intend to not let this happen again by developing enough of a backlog that when I have to take a month away from the flash fiction I have enough to throw into the pot. This also includes the serial fiction piece. That one is important anyway since it’s a bit of a prequel to events of the novel.

Regarding the Patreon campaign:

With the changes to flash fiction, current fulfillment on the requested fiction is temporary halted. I can’t post what isn’t written yet. I will, however post chapter 1 of the novel. This is a pre-editing, pre-second draft review version of the chapter so take it with a grain of salt. If you’re not a patreon, sign up now and you’ll get to see this right away. If you stay signed up, you’ll also get yourself a full copy of the book once it’s done.

Okay, back to work on the novel. The faster that’s done, the fast we’re back to full production of that flash fiction.

Status Report – April 2016

It’s the first Monday of the month, and that makes it update time.

The first quarter has now come to a close. Three months of self-publishing goals and deadlines have passed and where do we stand? March was the start of a weekly serial fiction. In addition to the Monday/Friday serial fiction we’ve been putting out we’ve kept up this project to par. I say to par because we didn’t get the overflow I wanted for the short fiction. Instead we’re still writing week to week and in some cases missing the Patreon week-a-head-of-time goal. That’s passing but it’s not great. Since we’ve talked grading scale here in the past I think that earns at best a B. Yes, it’s good we’re writing but we’re not taking that extra step we need to accomplish our end goals.

The Novel is somewhere around 15k. It’s nowhere near complete and that’s really my fault. I got distracted, pure and simple and for two weeks now I’ve set a Friday deadline of 20k words. Well, now it’s time to up the ante. I know I can do 3k a day. I did it several times over the last few weeks, days when I wrote both flash fiction and a short story. Those are great things but they’re not my goal. The novel is. So That’s the gauntlet, 3k a day this week. 30k total by the end of Friday. That’s with flash fiction as well out there. It means I need to have between 3.5-5k writing days every day this week to meet my deadline, but this is necessary. I’ve been saying the novel will be done by December, January, February, and March so far. April is the final deadline, and with the current word count and my goals of 70-80k words for the story, I’m going to need 15k a week to get there. Current grade for novel writing: D

So that’s our April goals:

  • 15k for the novel each week.
  • Complete all of April Flash fiction by April 15.
  • Get back to weekly podcasting.

Status Report – March 2016

It’s the first weekday of the month, and that makes it update time.

We’re about to begin our third and final month of the first quarter in this self-publishing, writing at home, creating business. So where are we in terms of our February goals? The flash fiction has been a success. We missed one day because I thought something was scheduled for the 26th and turns out I was wrong. Really should have checked the spreadsheet on that one because it did show a blank slate for the day. I digress. We didn’t work on nor complete the novel. That needs major adjusting this coming month. We didn’t get out as many podcast episodes as we planned. That’s not cool. So, in general I think the month gets a C, for completing one objective near perfectly, for failing another completely, and partially completing the last one. Let’s hope for an A for March.

Major milestones in February included the official launch of the Patreon. It went up on February 8th, and has garnered 2 supporters in its first 21 days up. It doesn’t help I haven’t been plugging it much but that’s because I wanted to hit the first real goal of why the Patreon is up in the first place: the flash fiction. Supporters get early access to these works and I wanted to make sure I could keep up that project a clean month in the making. I did, and so now I feel more confident about talking about the Patreon more often. Expect to see a few more bumps for that on my social media feeds but not too many.

It’s time for goals for March:

First, continue the flash fiction and keep it going strong. We’ll be introducing the first serial series to the flash fiction (which will run weekly on Wednesdays), premiering tomorrow with the first installment of Hands. You can read this right now on the Patreon supporter feed. Working on a serial series Is heavily inspired by the likes of awesome authors like Christiana Ellis and Andrew Eckhart, and I highly recommend checking out their serial series currently in production and archived on their respective sites. I’ll be linking them tomorrow in the official launch of Hands.

Second, we’re still setting goals for the novel. I’m going to aim for an end of March deadline. Assuming nothing comes up (no family trips planned, no weird schedules, no sickness, etc), I should have nearly five clear weeks to write the story. It’s already outlined so there’s nothing holding me back. This will be the make or break grade for the upcoming month, so I better make it count.

Third, the podcast still needs more activity. I’d like to get into a habit of putting out a recorded piece of flash fiction each week, so expect to hear my complaining about audio editing over the coming weeks as I try my hand at the project. There’s another project related to this I’m working on too, but until that officially launches I want to hold off screaming about that just yet. That should officially launch sometime in June if all goes according to plan.

That’s it, our official Mach update. Let’s see if we can’t make this coming month the strongest of the year to date.

That New Widget

I don’t always get to talk about milestones on here. At least, not as often as I wish I could. The cause lies somewhere between my production cycle and what I actually consider a milestone. So when I say I have a milestone to celebrate it really is something important. Today we have a milestone to celebrate: The Patreon is live.

Okay. I know. I’m celebrating the ability for people to give me money, but hear me out. It’s a milestone because a few important factors have sprung up from this going live. It’s the first time (aside from a poorly advertised short story) that I can actually make money as a creator. That’s pretty cool. I’ve also already lined up two supporters and that’s mind blowing to me. Between the two of them I’ve hit my first Patreon goal: supporting the website’s hosting. Granted that is an every two-year expense but knowing that it’s taken care of is a burden I’m really relieved to have off my shoulders. I’m still reliant on my biggest patron for support, my wife, but we’re on our way to being able to sustain this business model.

This does create a certain level of accountability now. First, I’ve made a promise of 3 days a week flash fiction. We’re a week into that already but now we have the expectation that these stories will continue. Yay accountability. This also applies to 3 days a week of podcast episodes. That’s rolling well into the new week with today’s episode where I talk about the Patreon, what I’m watching, and what I’m working on. Now I just need to take care of some short stories for the future and get to work on the novel.

Until then I want to say thanks to anyone who is just taking the time to support me by sharing the word about the podcast or my fiction. I know not everyone can toss into a Patreon but liking the Facebook page, sharing a post, a story, or an episode helps a ton. It’s a long road I’m traveling and every helping hand is appreciated.

Status Report – February 2016

It’s the first weekday of the month, and that’s makes it update time!

*steps back as a field of fireworks, excitement, and loud music plays for a moment, until I’m left holding a single unlit sparkler*

Yay, imagination.

It’s been a month since we started this new adventure and I wanted to share with you the highs and lows of that time. Our goal at the end of January was to have a finished book project ready to bake and print. We’re not there. We’re actually quite far from it. I’ve completed the outline and worked heavily on the first chapter but things hit a snag throughout the time we laid out for the project. There’s a myriad of excuses but the biggest falls under health and work performance.

So what did we accomplish writing wise instead? Flash fiction. Today marks the first installment of a three times a week flash fiction project I’m pushing. The stories are meant to serve as writing practice and as a general draw to people new to me. They’re also fun to write and fairly quick on the immediate satisfaction scale. They’re also the lynch pin to the upcoming Patreon, as donors get access to upcoming stories a week earlier than everyone else. I also have plans to include serial fiction as part of this project, but I’m holding off pushing that out until the novel is further along.

I’ve also been really lax with the podcast. It’s meant to be a daily thing but getting sick rather early into its production halted it. We’ll be fixing that this week. Tonight, actually, since I’ve no reason to put off putting out an episode.

That’s really it for now. We’re very early in the process for what I’m creating, and until I’m out there more with production, projects, and connecting with people, these will remain brief. Our goal for February are the completion of the Novel, having the flash fiction out there Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of every week from now until I’m not writing anymore because the bore worms have taken over my brain, have an episode of the podcast out at least 5 days a week and make sure to post when and why episodes aren’t coming so people aren’t in the dark, and finally having the Patreon up and running with something people can dig. Those are reasonable goals.