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 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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