Friday, December 31, 2010

Weekly Writing Status

My last weekly status of the year 2010.

This year’s been a good year. You can see from my
previous post how many words total I’ve written, so I won’t bother going into that today, but I did want to say that I wrote my first Short Story in probably two decades this week. It clocked in at 5500 words and I’m pretty proud of it. I’ll be working on some short stories as I have time in January as well.

As for my current novel codenamed “Grandpa” I’m sitting at 59,832 words total. I managed to get about 3800 of those words written this week.

This takes my weekly total between Grandpa and short fiction to around 9300 words in 7 days. I’m quite happy with that since my goal should be 7700.

All in all a good week and I’m happy to call my writing in the year 2010 very successful. I hope to continue on this vein next year, and I hope to be able to have the time to keep my blog updated more often and more regular next year.

Here’s looking forward to a great 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Books Read

Well, I read a lot of books last year. According to my Goodreads account, I read 73, but I found a couple duplicates in there. Page count came in around 25,000 pages. I hope to beat that next year, but writing comes first. Reading is still very important, and obviously content and comprehension beats out sheer numbers.

Title Author
A Memory of Wind Rachel Swirsky
A Wind in the Door (Time, #2) Madeleine L'Engle
A Wrinkle in Time (Time, #1) Madeleine L'Engle
Amulet, Book 1: The Stonekeeper Kazu Kibuishi
Amulet, Book 2: The Stonekeeper's Curse Kazu Kibuishi
Because of Winn-Dixie Kate DiCamillo
Bridge to Terabithia Katherine Paterson
Chosen (House of Night, #3) P.C. Cast
City of Dust: Illness, Arrogance, and 9/11 Anthony Depalma
Decision Points George W. Bush
Ella Enchanted Gail Carson Levine
Eros, Philia, Agape: A Tor.Com Original Rachel Swirsky
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
First Flight: A Tor.Com Original Mary Robinette Kowal
Frankenstein Mary Shelley
Get-It-Done Guy's 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More Stever Robbins
His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire, #1) Naomi Novik
Hoot Carl Hiaasen
Hunted (House of Night, #5) P.C. Cast
Judy Moody, M.D.: The Doctor Is In! (Judy Moody #5) Megan McDonald
No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days Chris Baty
One Second After William R. Forstchen
Palimpsest Catherynne M. Valente
Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion Dale McGowan
Pornucopia Piers Anthony
Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them Francine Prose
Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life Terry Brooks
Song of Susannah [The Dark Tower VI] Stephen King
Spells (Wings, #2) Aprilynne Pike
Stardust Neil Gaiman
Starship Troopers Robert A. Heinlein
The Adventure of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle Patrick Rothfuss
The Angel Experiment (Maximum Ride, #1) James Patterson
The Battle for Skandia (Ranger's Apprentice, #4) John Flanagan
The Burning Bridge (Ranger's Apprentice, #2) John Flanagan
The City of Ember (The Ember Series, #1) Jeanne DuPrau
The Dark Tower [The Dark Tower VII] Stephen King
The Diamond of Darkhold (The Ember Series, #4) Jeanne DuPrau
The Diamond Throne (The Elenium, #1) David Eddings
The Drawing of the Three [The Dark Tower II] Stephen King
The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time, #1) Robert Jordan
The Forever War Joe Haldeman
The God Engines John Scalzi
The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction Philip Athans
The Gunslinger [The Dark Tower I] Stephen King
The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, #1) Suzanne Collins
The Icebound Land (Ranger's Apprentice, #3) John Flanagan
The Legend of Witch Bane (The Witch Bane Saga) Kevis Hendrickson
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1) Rick Riordan
The Magic Kingdom of Landover   Volume 1: Magic Kingdom For Sale SOLD! - The Black Unicorn - Wizard at Large Terry Brooks
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress Robert A. Heinlein
The Name of this Book Is Secret Pseudonymous Bosch
The People of Sparks (The Ember Series, #2) Jeanne DuPrau
The Prophet of Yonwood (The Ember Series, #3) Jeanne DuPrau
The Rational Optimist Matt Ridley
The Road Cormac McCarthy
The Ruby Knight (The Elenium, #2) David Eddings
The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice, #1) John Flanagan
The Sapphire Rose (The Elenium, #3) David Eddings
The Siege of Macindaw: Book Six (Ranger's Apprentice) John Flanagan
The Sleeping Dragon (Guardians of the Flame, #1) Joel Rosenberg
The Sorcerer in the North (Ranger's Apprentice, #5) John Flanagan
The Waste Lands [The Dark Tower III] Stephen King
The Way of Kings Brandon Sanderson
The Windup Girl Paolo Bacigalupi
The World Is Flat (Updated and Expanded) Thomas L. Friedman
Untamed (House of Night, #4) P.C. Cast
Warbreaker Brandon Sanderson
Wizard and Glass [The Dark Tower IV] Stephen King
Wolves of the Calla [The Dark Tower V] Stephen King
World of Warcraft: The Shattering Christie Golden
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War Max Brooks

Review: Ella Enchanted


Ella EnchantedElla Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Ever wonder how Cinderella came to be in the deplorable condition she starts her story? If so you should read this book. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Highly recommend to anyone who love imaginative tales.



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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2011 Writing Goals

So here is an idea of what I hope to accomplish in 2011 for writing:
  • 1000 words written per day.
  • Write three new rough drafts of novels (through daily writing, see above goal).
    • War
    • Elements 2
    • Elements 3
  • 12 short stories written and edited. (One per month).
  • Edit two complete novels (probably Grandpa and War).
  • Complete NaNoWriMo 2011
  • Read 100 books in the year (mostly classics). Two per week, plus posting reviews of them.
You're crazy Tom! Explain yourself!
Well, if I assume I can write 1000 words per day, 7 days a week, I would end up with about 365,000 words written in the year. I realize that every day without fail is a little much, so I’ve put in a buffer. If I take 10% of the days off for vacation, holidays, bumming around and sickness, which means I need to increase the daily word count by 10%. So daily goal for actual writing days in 1100 words. 
And in that I get 36 days off for vacation/sickness/etc.
Not a bad gig, but still a lot of work. 1000 words per day generally takes me 1-2 hours. It’s quite a commitment, but something I’ve managed to keep pace with pretty well over the last few months, so I think I can do it for an entire year, and I need to if I hope to become published someday.
Assuming 100,000 words per novel, that’s three complete novels + 65,000 words leftover for Short stories and other stuff.
So far I’m only talking about creation. This year I hope to add something new: editing. Thus far in my writing career I’ve only done rough drafts (very rough) and I hope to move that forward this next year. In 2011 I will to branch into Short stories for a couple of reasons.
They are fun, quick, and once edited and finalized, I can start submitting them to magazines, anthologies, online contests and other things. I can’t submit if I don’t have something completed.
Learning to edit the shorter stories will hopefully help me gain the skills to edit two of my completed rough drafts.
This is in addition to the 1-2 hours per day I’m already spending creating new content. I’m not sure if this is something I can handle. Some authors are able to keep up with writing in one book, then editing an article, another novel, and posting blog entries all in a single day. I’m still learning who I am as a writer and what I can accomplish. I could very well find out I’m only able to concentrate on one aspect of writing per day.
In that case I might have to put down creation of a new novel while I’m editing another. I’ll just have to see. I want to dip my toe in the water first with short stories, then ramp up into novels later in the year.
The reading thing is something that will be rough. 2 books per week is surprisingly hard given that I have a family, personal life, work, and I’m writing as well. I think the only way to accomplish this is to cut TV and video games out, which I’m hesitant to do but if it’s important enough to meet the goal, I’ll do it. This year will be a very different year for me if that’s the case. I love playing WoW and love certain TV shows, so I’ll have a tough choice ahead of me.
As for the classics portion, well I’ve shirked my responsibilities as a reader for far too long. There are many older books I’ve never read and I think it’s time I do something to catch up.
Posting reviews, regardless of how small I feel is a good “give back” gesture. For years I’ve relied on other people’s reviews on Amazon to choose which books to read. I think it a good use of time to jot down my feelings about a book (which I should be journaling anyway) and posting those on the net, which if done right should only take a couple minutes per book to post.
So there you have it. My crazy list of 2011 goals. I will post from time to time on my progress and sum up at the end of the year. I look forward to all your support as I try to become keep writing daily, improve my skills as a writer by learning how to edit my books, and move toward my eventual goal of becoming published and becoming a full-time author.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Year in Sum

2010 has been an interesting year for me. I started in 2009 realizing I wanted a new career, and that I needed to take a few years to work toward it. I even began writing regularly again in 2009, but that did fizzle out later in the year when my wife had some medical problems and I had to stop writing to take care of her and the family.
This carried into 2010 which unfortunately had a negative effect on my writing routine. By the time my wife was fully better it had been too many months without writing that it was hard to get back into the habit. because she had to take it easy, we'd fallen into the habit of watching tv/movies after the kids went to bed as a way to relax. Nothing wrong with that, but it wasn't moving my goals forward.
Summer of 2010 helped change that. Two major events helped kick my butt into high gear and got me back on track:
Friends got published. Two of my friends from High School, both of which wrote, had been published. Granted they were small presses, but it was something. They had completed something, I hadn't.
I got a phone call from my boss. I was being moved to a new account at my company, a large company that handles IT support for other companies. I had been doing the same thing for the same client for about 14 years when I was being told I needed to leave my comfort zone and start something different. 
I realized I'd fallen into a rut at work. I was showing up, doing my job, and finishing for the day. It was easy, comfortable, and I wasn't all that happy. This new account required me to learn a lot of new processes, new people, and quite frankly work harder. I knew everything so well at my last job that I knew how to get things done quickly and efficiently. This new one was a wake-up-call. Since the year prior I'd known that I wanted to change careers, but this year it really hit home. I had to stop making excuses for myself and just do it.
So I sat down, figured out a basic plan on how I would become a writer. Step One was to make it a daily habit.  This I detailed through my blog post called 15 and 500 .
I also set a goal to complete NaNoWriMo this year.
Once I got into the habit of writing daily, I increased my word-count, picked up pace with my novel, set more specific goals, and dug in for the long haul.
So how are things now?
As of today, Dec 28th. I've written 70,000 words this year in free writing exercises, which I do daily before I delve into writing. This also counts as my daily journal to keep track of life, writing, and other random thoughts.
22,000 words written for the blog. only half of it has been published so far.
23,000 words spread across three partially-started novels. All of them are now in cold-storage, unknown if I’ll ever pull those out.
110,000 words written on my book I’ve codenamed Elements 1. Book 1 of a trilogy. Jennifer is currently alpha reading this book, and I already know when I sit down to edit it I have major changes in store for it.
I completed NaNoWriMo 50,000 words on my book ‘Grandpa’ in the month of November.
59,000 words written on my book codenamed Grandpa.  I’m nearly complete with this book’s rough draft as well, only three more chapters to go I hope to have this done in the next couple weeks. 
I know I didn’t get much written on the book over what I did in November, but December was pretty busy. We remodeled two bathrooms, moved electrical and did minor remodeling in three bedrooms. Completely remodeled and did flooring in two other bedrooms, as well as some minor fixes here and there in the house. All in all it was justified to take a break from writing in December.
All of this accomplished in the last half of 2010, since that was when my butt was kicked.
All in all I would say it’s pretty successful year. So what do I plan to work on for the next year? Well funny you should ask, I already have a list, but you’ll have to wait to see it.

Review: Fahrenheit 451


Fahrenheit 451Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


It's hard to write a review for this book that is different from all of the others.

All I can say is this is a classic story of censorship and and government intrusion in our lives. This is the 50th anniversary edition and I really enjoyed the author notes in the back. Over the years, Ray had been asked by many people asking to modify his work so it's slightly less offensive, something specifically talked about in this book!

Certainly makes you think.



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Review: World of Warcraft: The Shattering


World of Warcraft: The ShatteringWorld of Warcraft: The Shattering by Christie Golden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Another good book by Christie Golden set in the World of Warcraft universe. It was a fast read, and my main complaint with it was that it wasn't long enough or went in-depth enough. As a player of WoW, I hoped for further insights into the characters I see and play alongside. While this book covered quite a bit and was very worth reading, I felt like I wanted a little bit more. I'm sure that will come out in a future book, but I wanted some more in this book.



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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Review: The Hunger Games


The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Okay, now I get what all the hype is about.

I should have read this a long time ago, but now that I finally had the time. How is the book? Fantastic! I read it in one day, in one sitting over 3-4 hours. I only stopped because my wife forced me to eat dinner.

The book starts off where it should in the middle of the action and never lets up. I can't wait to read the next two in the series. I won't go into spoilers here, there are plenty of books out there with plot reviews, suffice it to say, I hope to read everything this author creates if all her books are this good.



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Review: Because of Winn-Dixie


Because of Winn-DixieBecause of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Like most Newberry Award Winners, I enjoyed this book. The story is simple. Girl finds dog, dog helps girl make friends when she moved to a new town and didn't know anyone.



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Review: Frankenstein


FrankensteinFrankenstein by Mary Shelley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I had a rough time with this book. Due to it's older-English language, Victorian-era dialogue and standards, and slow pacing I wondered the whole time if it was worth finishing.

I'm still wondering that. I guess reading Frankenstein for it's historical significance was worth it. Many other stories and movies have popped up from it's beginnings, but my favorite parts of the current-day retellings aren't there, which made me sad. Since the entire book is basically narrative done in letter form, it was sometimes difficult to tell who was speaking. I thought for a while that Frankenstein was talking when it was in fact the monster.

At any rate, I'm glad I read it, but I doubt I'd put this book on the short list to read again.



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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Review: The Sapphire Rose


The Sapphire Rose (The Elenium, #3)The Sapphire Rose by David Eddings

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Okay, this book took me literally months to get through, by no fault of it's own though. I simply was busy, did NaNoWriMo in the middle and just never got into it really.

Once I did, things changed. I finished about half the book in one sitting. I hope someday to go back and re-read the entire trilogy from start to finish, now that I understand the names of people and places better.



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It's been a while

I know, I know. I haven't posted in a while. I'm a complete slacker. In fact I haven't done much writing since NaNoWriMo ended. I've managed to eek out another 4000 words since Nov 30th, but that's it. Life's been crazy. On-call for work and up half the night most of that week was a downer. Holiday concerts for the kids and my birthday filled up a few other days. Finishing up home-improvement projects, moving furniture, cleaning cleaning cleaning. It's a rough time to be trying to get writing done with so much going on.

But, I persevere. I do write in my writing journal nearly every day (I know, I should be doing it daily.) I'm also catching up on some books that have been on my Goodreads.com list for a while now. I've also written down more than a few new ideas for either short stories or something to integrate into a future novel.

We're heading up north to visit family tomorrow for a week and a half. Should be nice and relaxing. I hope to curl up in a corner with my Air and get some serious writing done. All I can hope for now is snow. That would be sweet.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Review: The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction


The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science FictionThe Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction by Philip Athans

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


As an aspiring Speculative Fiction author, I'm very interested in books on the craft of writing, especially when they're specific for the genres that I love. This was an informative book on how to write Sci/Fi & Fantasy books. My only complaint was it was short. I wish there was more information, examples perhaps, but for the price I paid I felt this was well worth the read.



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Book Review: The Rational Optimist

The Rational OptimistThe Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I loved this book.

Matt Ridley is an economist who gets down and detailed with the realities of population control, organic farming methods, fossil fuels, third world countries, sweat shops and may other topics that are rarely discussed among mainstream America. He breaths some rational thought into the hysteria and pretty much tells us that "we're okay". We're not destroying the world with our traditional farming methods, we can feed 9 billion people, nuclear power really is the best solution, not wind. I fully plan on gifting this book to friends/family who have an interest in reading it.

I highly recommend this to anyone who wants a different and truthful look at the realities of life, where we came from, how we're doing now, and where the human population is going.

We need more books like this and we really need more people discussing the realities of life rather than scary stories.



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Monday, November 29, 2010

Completed NaNoWriMo? Check.

I'm done! 50,231 words in 29 days! I'll post more up about it tomorrow when I have time to decompress.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Book Review: Decision Points by President George W. Bush

Decision PointsDecision Points by George W. Bush
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was very surprised by this book. Overall I haven't had a high approval for the things Bush did during his administration, but it was refreshing seeing his viewpoint for why he made these decisions.

Some of the information he gave in this book was the first time I'd read it, and it did make me change my views of him and the things he did. Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the inner-workings of the President. If you're a Bush-hater, I doubt this book will change your mind about him, but I think anyone with an open mind and realization about the tough decisions our President has to make on a daily basis will find this a very engaging read.


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Friday, November 26, 2010

NaNoWriMo Status Nov 26th.

So have to admit something: trying to write a book in a month is a daunting task. Add in year-end ramp ups at work, on call for work which took up a whole week, plus patching for another week. Trying to remodel our house, which includes two bathrooms, two bedrooms, plus painting the hallways and tons of trim & doors and what you have is a very busy November. That doesn’t even count the birthday of my wife, Jennifer and the other little things that have nagged me for my time this month.
So how am I doing? Well as of last night, I had written 36,163. 50,000 is my goal. For those paying attention, I should have been writing 1667 words per day for the entire month of November and had I kept to that I should be at 42,000 words right now. So yes, I’m behind. But Most of that remodeling is behind me, work should be easy for the next few days, I have a weekend to relax and pump out words, birthdays are done, and Thanksgiving is behind me. All I have to do is buckle down and keep at it every day with 2800 words a day. It’s a lot of catch-up, but I know I can do it. The trick is to just keep the steam going for the rest of the month.
So anyway, there’s my novel status. I think I bit off too much this month, but I think I can make it up at the last minute with some marathon writing sessions.
As for the book, I won’t be done on November 30th. 50,000 is what is considered a “book” as far as NaNoWriMo is concerned, but this book will probably end up more like 80K words. I think I’ll keep going but slow down in December, hoping to do 1000 words per day to hopefully finish up the book by the end of the December.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NaNoWriMo Status Nov 16th

Well, I'm behind.

About 6000 words behind counting today's words.

The last week has been crazy here. On-call for work that ended last Friday, that was 12 solid hours per day of working.

Then over the weekend I had to build a server for work, so that filled up about 8 hours of my weekend time, AND we gutted and painted both kid's bedrooms. I was too tired and beat to write after that.

Last night my eldest daughter accidentally closed the door on my youngest daughter's fingers, on the hinge side. A trip to the Urgent Care and one xray later, daughter's fingers aren't broken, just swollen and will need to be babied for a while.

It's been a productive week, just not for writing. I have a lot of catching up to do, but I think I can make it if I buckle down and double up on word counts for the next week. Still it will be a struggle, but hopefully I can get stuff done before Thanksgiving weekend hits and I have even more excuses not to keep up with daily counts.

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Day 1 Status

3037 words written today, 1667 was the quota. Good start to my Novel. Things going pretty well too, still happy with my story and outline, but I think I might have to come up with more content to hit the 50,000.<br class="khtml-block-placeholder">

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's NaNoWriMo Time!

As a Newbie Writer, I’ve been excited to take part in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year. 
NaNoWriMo is an effort to help kickstart writers into concentrating on pure writing for one month, and have a finished novel by the end. It starts November 1st every year and goes till the end of the month. In that time you need to write 50,000 words to be considered a “winner”.  And yes, for those of you doing the math, that’s 1667 words every day for 30 days. Last November (2009), 165,000 people signed up for NaNoWriMo and 30,000 of them completed their projects. That’s about an 18% completion rate and my goal is to be in that 18% this year.
Many people say they want to write a novel, but doing it is a whole other thing. That’s the beauty of NaNoWriMo. They have a unique way of getting you to write.
NaNoWriMo is about putting stuff down on screen (or paper if you’re old-school). It puts sheer word count ahead of good grammar, editing, even spelling. It’s an effort to kick you in the pants and get you motivated to get something done. Some authors find fault with this method, and that’s okay, it’s not for everyone. Some professional authors actually use NaNoWriMo as an excuse to put off their agents, editors, adoring fans and myriad of other things that authors have to deal with, and get their next book written.
The spirit of the month is to write. Stop watching TV. Turn off World of Warcraft. Put down the Apple TV remote. Maybe even lock up the iPad if you’re as bad as I am. 
Get your word count in each day for 30 days and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. There’s even an effort in March of each year to edit the same novel that you wrote in November, giving you a little time away from the novel, as well as a little extra time to finish the rough draft in case you need to pass the 50K mark on your book, which I imagine most people would, since 50,000 words really isn’t a book by today’s standards.
Whatever your motivation, you can do all the prep you want ahead of time, as long as you don’t write any of the actual novel. Some people begin planning out their novels back in August. I was kind of busy back then I so started this last Sunday. I’m currently working on basic outline and character development right now.
Here’s hoping NaNoWriMo goes well for me this year. It’s my first year doing it and I hope I can complete it. I know I have the time, I know I can do it, the hard part is making sure I don’t let other distractions pull me away. Given that we’re currently in the middle of bathroom and master bedroom remodels, work, kids busy with school, gearing up for the holiday season and Thanksgiving coming smack in the middle of the time when I’ll probably be trying to catch up on my NaNoWriMo Novel, it’ll be fun. Why oh why did they have to pick November?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I'm Done!

I'm done!
Well, not really, but…
I’m done! 
I'm currently sitting at about 110,000 words on my first fantasy novel and the main storyline is complete. It’s time to put it away. Two reasons for this: I need to put it away to separate creation from editing and I’ve also reached the time limit I imposed on myself earlier this year.
Editing:
I already know that I need to completely remodel the opening few chapters to make the entire book make sense, I also need to spend some time fleshing out some sections in the middle, working on characters backstories and what drives them. 
This will take an incredible amount of time during editing, but I knew that going into this project. While I could keep going right now, it’s best to distance myself from the work for a little while before I jump into phase two, editing. 
There are a few reasons for this. First, its very important to put your manuscript off to the side and let it stew for a while. Let your mind drift from the project so that when you sit down to edit it you can see it with hopefully a semi fresh set of eyes. 
Maybe those clues you were dropping in the book that helped the reader find out who the killer was are way too ambiguous, or maybe they give too much away too early in the book.  While you are writing it you have blinders on and its hard to see the forest for the trees.  Or maybe you don’t see the trees for the forest .  Maybe you think you're telling this epic story arc, but the individual chapters are too hard to get through that people wont stick around to the end to find that out.  That all gets honed and fixed in the editing phase.
The other and main reason I'm putting the book off to the side right now is that National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is starting November 1st.
I know I’ve mentioned NaNoWriMo before, but I guess I haven’t really explained it fully. I’ll post more up on it this next week, but suffice it to say, check out nanowrimo.org to learn more. 
I told myself that my first book had to have it’s rough draft completed by Nov 1st (actually a week or so earlier so I could take a break in between) so that I could start on my second one.
My first book was a fantasy novel, the typical story about a young man coming of age in a world that needs his help to save it. I certainly don’t consider it earth-shatteringly good prose. In fact I’m not fully convinced that this book will see the light of day without a ton of good editing first. It was a practice.
I’ve heard it said that an author finally figures out what they’re doing once they’ve written a million words. Well, I’m about a tenth of the way there. Not saying it’s crap, but Earnest Hemingway said “the first draft of anything is shit,” and I tend to agree with him.
So I’ll be putting this novel on the back burner for a while while I work on something different. This time I’ll be writing a tale set in modern day America about a grandfather. Sounds nice, but just wait till my twisted mind gets a hold of that one. Elements novel is put down, Grandpa will hopefully be completed by November 30th.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sorry I haven't updated in a while. It's been pretty crazy here the last couple weeks. We hired a contractor to come in and gut and redo each bathroom and that's been filling up most of my time away from work.

Writing's been going well too. I hit 100,000 words on my novel a while back (too lazy to look it up right now.) I'm sitting around 110K right now and I'm just about done.

I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo starting on Novemeber 1st where a ton of people all join together in a community at nanowrimo.org and help each other write a book in a month. 50,000 has been designated as a "book", so I'll basically have to write half of what I've already written in 1/4th the time that it took me to write my first book.

November is going to be crazy, both my mom and wife have birthdays, plus a couple relatives, work, finishing up our remodels so we can move back into our bedroom finally. I hope I can keep up with it all.

When I grab some time probably this weekend I'll make a post about what Nanowrimo is and what my plans for blogging will be for the month of Novemeber.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I know I haven’t posted much with substance lately and I feel like I need to. Lately just getting in my daily 1500 words has been enough of a struggle, so also posting up an article on the blog is a stretch, specially when those take 2-3 times longer than my normal daily quota. But I have passed 80K words on my first novel, so I think a little slack is in order for me not maintaining my blog for the three people that read but never comment.
As many of you know, I have a newfound fascination with Brandon Sanderson, which I’ve discussed a couple times already, and read two his books (I’ll be working on the others soon). With the publication of his latest book “The Way of Kings” (which I loved) and the up-coming “Towers of Midnight”, Brandon has been out and about promoting said books and publishing a flurry of articles about how he came up with the ideas for the book, how long it took him, and his overall thoughts about the fantasy genre and where he fits into it. My favorite one was on John Scalzi’s blog and ended up being a bit looked down on by some pretty cynical people who had issues with his definition of post-modernism
Unlike me, Brandon actually graduated from college, so he’s an edumacated sort. I think partly because of his background in college and his ingrainment in the writing of epic fantasy novels for so many years, he’s developed a sort of history and road-map to the fantasy genre. From the genre defining Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, the grandfather of modern fantasy, to the next generation of novelists like Terry Brooks and Stephen Donaldson, fantasy moved on through the 80’s until Robert Jordan came along, who Sanderson considers the father of modern day fantasy.
I’m taking my view from the eye of a newbie writer. I haven’t graduated from college, hell I barely graduated High School, I even flunked the first semester of Senior English, which I had to scramble to take via correspondence the last half of my senior year in order to graduate. So bear with me in this…I am after all, a newbie.
Regardless of his exact definition of post-modernism, I appreciate the effort he put in to laying out his mode of thinking about the fantasy genre. Someone should, and he seems qualified for the position. I thought his article was fascinating, it really got me thinking about the fantasy genre as a timeline, rather than just what would I want to read.
Something I’d never really thought about, but struck me was the evolution of the fantasy genre; watching it split and change over the years. Terry Brooks was a far different author than Stephen Donaldson, and so was Robert Jordan from other modern fantasy authors. I was introduced to the fantasy genre with Dungeon’s and Dragons. I devoured the Shanarra, Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms books and many others at that time. As a teenager, that fantasy was amazing to me, and certainly felt epic.
It’s not till recently that I was introduced to David Eddings, Stephen Donaldson and others from the earlier days of fantasy, and I’m still trying to keep up with deluge of fantasy coming out now. With blurred lines and so many excellent books coming out like The Windup Girl and The Dark Tower series concluding it’s hard to keep up with everything, and enjoy reading the books that I read for what they are. Stories in time. 
Rarely do I sit back and think about the overall progression. I certainly see the recent push following the success of Twilight and all the other teen vampire novels coming out, but I just don’t have the breadth of knowledge to step back and really think about 50 years of publishing. Where we’ve been, where we’re going, and the whys and whos that answer all the little questions in between.
I appreciate Brandon (and others) doing the heavy thinking here. This is stuff I’d never really thought about, and I’m glad that there are people out there who are thinking about it. As Brandon said in one of his interviews, he gets to stand on the shoulders of Robert Jordan. As a newbie author, I get to stand on Brandon’s shoulders.
I get to enjoy his punditry and analysis of the fantasy genre and decide where I want to find my niche. As I sit down to write every day I find myself ruminating Brandon’s words, trying to figure out what sort of story I want to write. Do I want to write classical fantasy, swords, sorcery, epic adventures from stalwart group of protagonists? Should I delve into the political side, melding epic adventure with political espionage? How about intricate plot lines involving anti-heroes who slog through the muck of society barely staying on this side of tolerability?
This is stuff I haven’t thought about before, and I should. I love epic fantasies, I hope to write them (well I am, but we’ll see how epic it really is). 
Thanks, Brandon, for doing some of the work for me. It makes it easier to think up plot lines and gives me some goals to set to make my story better.
Then again I have to compete against massive tomes like Way of Kings. Let’s hope I have a really kick-ass editor.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Review: Palimpsest


PalimpsestPalimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Palimpsest is a lovely story about a magical land that can only be accessed at night by having sex with someone who has been there before. Once you visit, you are left with a map of one of the streets tattooed somewhere on your body and a burning desire to return another night.

On your first night you find yourself in a seance room with a string of yarn linking you to three other people. For the rest of your life you will be linked to these people. Everything you feel, touch, experience, they will too.

This story is about Palimpsest the place, and the journey of four people all from different locations in our world. It’s an immersive read, very vivid with well thought-out locations and inventive characters.

While I loved the story, I had a rough time reading this book. This did detract from the story, and slowed me down quite a bit. A lot of the words went over my head, making me glad I read it on the Kindle so I could lookup words as I went along. The worst was one page where I had to lookup 4 words, but really it teaches me I just need to improve my vocabulary. Hats off to the author for pushing me to improve myself!



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Review: Amulet, Book 2: The Stonekeeper's Curse


Amulet, Book 2: The Stonekeeper's CurseAmulet, Book 2: The Stonekeeper's Curse by Kazu Kibuishi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Another great Amulet Graphic Novel. Can't wait for the third!



The story is very engaging. I read through the entire thing in one sitting for the storyline. Now to go back and pay attention to the artwork on my second read-through.



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Friday, September 24, 2010

Weekly Writing Status

80,136 words so far.
I’m still doing my 15 minutes of free-writing and 1250 words per day, though I didn’t keep up with that exactly over the weekend due to a family trip.
***
GULP
My original plan was to have this novel finished in time for NaNoWriMo, which I’ll be covering in a blog post later on as it gets closer to November. 
I had a post where I estimated my word count of my finished novel a while back, and I’m still sticking with those rough numbers. I’m currently around half of my estimated word count to completing my novel (80K/150K.) 
It took me about 80 days to get this far in the book, and I somehow have to write another 70K in 38 days. Ouch. That’s pretty darn close to 2K a day from here on out. My ramp-up schedule has me bumping up to 1500 words a day starting this Sunday, and I think I’ll stick to that for now, regardless of what the math says. I worry about burnout most, and I’d rather be writing a little every day and love what I’m doing than get burned out and give up on it like I’ve done so many times. The year-end holidays give plenty of distractions already for not writing, I don’t need more on top of that.
I need to have this novel draft completed before NaNoWriMo, but if I’m short word count, I’m okay with that, as long as the basic storyline is there. I’ll draft up some notes on what chapters need to be fleshed out during editing phase like ***insert long description about how main character saves the entire village from an evil dragon here*** and ***insert scene where hero sweeps maiden away into the sunset riding atop said dragon***, only I don’t have any dragons in my story…or maidens…or do I?!?
I’d like to take a week off prior to NaNoWriMo in order to work on the outline for my next book (that I have to write entirely during November), and take a break to spend with my family before diving head-long into an even crazier month.
It’s all a little overwhelming at this point. I shouldn’t be scared that I won’t get it all done, but I am a little.  Distractions abound: World of Warcraft Cataclysm will be coming out around that timeframe most likely, which I won’t be buying, as well as Fallout: New Vegas, which I really want to get, even more-so than WoW to be honest. My wife, Jennifer, suggested I get it but she’ll wrap it for my birthday in December assuming I finish my NaNoWriMo book. The Pressure is on!
Will Tom be able to play his most anticipated post-apocalyptic video game of the year this year? Wait till December 13th to find out!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Review: The Adventure of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle


The Adventure of the Princess and Mr. WhiffleThe Adventure of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle by Patrick Rothfuss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is a brilliant little book. It's not for little kids, though I think the older kids would get a kick out of it. It's bubbly and happy, and dark and twisted. Keep them coming Patrick!



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Monday, September 20, 2010

Book Review: Hunted by P.C. Cast

Hunted (House of Night, #5)Hunted by P.C. Cast
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another good book from P.C. Cast. This far into the series I'm starting to get a little disenfranchised from Zoey and her cohorts. These later books tend to only cover a day or two of Zoey's life and the minutia of the kids sitting around trash talking and rehashing scenes over an over is getting old. That said, I'm still very engaged, but finding myself skipping over entire sections of Zoey explaining to her friends something that just happened to her the night before.


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Friday, September 17, 2010

Weekly Writing Status

70,143 Words written on novel so far.<br>

15/1250 is getting tougher and tougher to do, but I’m keeping up with it at least.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Random Rambling Ruminations

I just have to say I’ve been incredibly busy with life these last few weeks. Work has been killer. Homework stuff with the kids. Every two weeks I increase my word-count and this starts cutting into the amount of time I have to get things done. Couple that with a energy level that seems to decrease the deeper I get into this project, I find myself struggling to keep up with the book.
But that’s life, right?
We all get burned out of things if we spend too much time on them. I have been focusing on this book a lot lately, but I think it’s a good thing. Writing in particular is a bittersweet profession. My current job I get paid regularly. I might think I should be getting paid for all the free OT I give my company, but ultimately my bank account stays above freezing, so I’m sated.
Writing this book is a lot different. I spend all this time up front just writing it. This cuts into my free time, and yes, into family time. It’s a sacrifice all around. 
Once I’m done (goal is end of October to complete the rough draft)  I will have the joy of spending 2-4 months editing the darn thing. This first edit will take a long time and be painful, but I’m hopeful I’ll make it through it.
Once I’m done with that do I get paid? Oh hell no. I have to get it shopped around to agents, publishers, editors, the list goes on.
Once I have found an agent/editor then I get the check right?
Well, possibly. I’ll get into that in later blog posts when I get closer to actually doing all of that.
The point of all these ramblings (and they are ramblings copied and pasted from my free-writing exercise during lunch today) is that my day-job pays me every two weeks. It keeps the lights on, it puts food on the table, and it allows me to read all those fancy Kindle books you see me post on Facebook.
This writing thing is a big gamble. I’m spending tons of hours ahead of time writing something that I have no guarantee will sell. 
But I keep doing it, just like many other authors. Hoping for that eventual payoff. Sure I want to turn this into a career, but I have to be smart about it. Assuming I’m halfway decent, and hire a world-class editor to fix everything, I’m still looking at a 5-10 year process to be able to transition to full-time writing. If that even happens.
So for now, I just keep on keeping on. I write my 1250 words each day, and I post up blog posts when I can. Writing comes first, then the blog.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Weekly Writing Status

Weekly Writing Status
62,215 Words so far.
Still keeping up with 15 minutes of freewriting, and 1000 words per day…well…kind of.
***
This week was nice. I headed out of town for a three-day weekend with my folks and my in-laws. Getting out of town and heading to small-town U.S.A affords me some time to get away into a quiet room and do some reading. This time it was trying to get through Brandon Sanderson’s epic novel The Way of Kings.  I didn’t finish it on my vacation, but I did finish it when I got back.  Amazing novel, you can see my review for it here
Due to the long vacation weekend, I was not able to keep up with my word count goals. I did write each day, but I told myself not to push myself as I just wanted to make sure I sat down daily to do something, and I did that. 
It was vacation after all.
When I got back to the real world on Tuesday, I was able to have the joy of sitting in the dentists chair for two hours counting the number of flinches I had as the Novocain was wearing off. Yeah, it hurt, and my gums are still sore and swollen two days later.
So, I didn’t write any on Thursday. But I kept up with it the rest of the week once I was over my Little Shop of Horrors reenactment.
***
So the lesson here kids: Dentists=evil.
And Keep writing daily!
Oh and go read Way of Kings, it’s good regardless of how much Novocain you’re on.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Book Review - "The Way of Kings"

Book Review - "The Way of Kings" by Brandon Sanderson. Book One of the Stormlight Archive

This book was epic. Epic in size, epic in scope, epic in it's presentation.

It took me over a week to read, where I normally rip through 2-3 books in a week. My hats off to Brandon Sanderson for writing such an involved story.

I was a bit confused at the beginning, much like when I read Warbreaker. His magic system is very integral to this storyline and he launches right into it near the beginning of the book, then bounces out to introduce all the main characters. The world he has invented is massive. Storms coming out of the East, great walls of water and wind. Entire civilizations, including plant and animal life hide out inside their shells, gripping the ground or hiding behind rocks in order to survive these storms.

It's a bleak existence, but one that is steeped in mystery, depth, survival, and triumph.

I can't wait for the next book in this series. I already bought the Hardback as well as the Kindle version. This is definitely one to read again.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Weekly Writing Status

57,521 Words so Far.
Still working on 15/1000
***
This week was not easy. 750 words per day wasn’t bad, but 1000 for some reason hit me pretty hard. For the first time in a couple months I actually missed a day writing. Well, two days. 
I broke a tooth, I think that counts.
But I did catch up the following day. So I ended up writing 2 days of 2000 words, 2 days of 1000 words and around 500 on another day.
This next week continues 15 minutes of free-writing per day to clear my head, followed by 1000 words per day. Only I’m leaving town for three days for the holiday weekend. This should be fun trying to keep up with that.
I won’t stress about it if I don’t get it done. Vacations are needed.
Till next week, keep writing!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Book Review for “Hoot”

Book Review: “Hoot” by Carl Hiaasen

This was a delightful book! I read it in two sittings and enjoyed every page. I will definitely put this on the shortlist of books to read with my kids.

This story had it all, a boy, bullies, golf, cops, a runaway, and of course owls.

There is some mild swearing, but nothing worse than you would read in the bible. The book also deals with deadbeat dads, fighting with parents, suspension from school, and runaways. Just keep that in mind if you are reading this to really young kids. I think anyone over third grade would be able to handle the ideas talked about in this book.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Weekly Writing Status

Weekly Writing Status
50,425 words so far.
Sunday starts 10/1000 *gulp*
***
The hardest thing this week was work. Once a month, the last week of the month in fact, we patch servers. All 400+ of them. It’s…fun.
It also eats up a ton of time.
Each day was a struggle to find the time and inclination to write. And yet I managed to get 10,000 words written in 7 days even though I only had a goal for 5250. Pretty damn successful I think! I’m certainly proud of myself. I hope I can keep it up.
15/750 (15 minutes of free-writing/journaling followed by 750 words written on my novel) per day has been working out. On a good day I’m finding 750 words can go by in less than 45 minutes. Sunday start 15/1000 where I’ll bump up my quota to 1000 words per day. 
I also read two books this week, “Hoot” and “9 Steps to Work Less and Do More.” I’ll post reviews for those shortly.