Light at the end of the tunnel – ROW80 – Wednesday Checkin Week 7

I skipped the past two ROW check-ins. I really had nothing positive to say about progress and just felt they would be unhelpful to write. I still have no writing progress to report, but I hope this is less depressing to report.

The Ripple Effect
My day job is a freelance web developer. I week ago I had a project deadline on one big project rear up. It went really well, but meant a lot of my time got stuck into it. It also meant I had to squeeze for the other projects that I work on that were not in deadline mode. So that push had a ripple effect. Of course, this ripple affected other things like writing. That should all be done now and the pond of ripples should be calming down as of next week.

I was also stuck on my story. I have started to collaborate with a fellow author on Twitter, bouncing ideas off each other for our own worlds and planning a shared one. I’ll announce that more concretely soon. He has given me some great ideas and helpful advice to get me un-stuck a few weeks ago. Then I hit another snag. I have characters and an overall plot, but could not figure out how to mesh them together in one spot. I couldn’t even articulate it to my author friend until this past week. And still, once I could explain the problem he came up with other ideas that I really think are great. I just need to find time to write them all down in prose. 🙂

Not a total loss

  • Tons of paid work completed in the past few weeks. Paid work is good, as money is used to exchange for goods and services. Including food and shelter. 🙂
  • New projects developing which I am excited about. Nice to have a job that continues as long as I need it to.
  • I re-themed my author site. I was looking at themes for our collaboration Imprint and came across this one for my own site. A few hours re-jiggering the colors and I am 95% happy with it.
  • Off on vacation for this weekend for relaxation with my wife. Hoping to get caught up on sleep and creative juices for a bigger push to write next week. In addition, more free time in general to actually do writing.
  • Got my next “Here Be Dragons” post completed for Displaced Nation. Not sure when it will go up, but I will link that too.
  • Got the sponsorship duties done. Nice to see how other people are doing on their goals and that I am not the only one who struggles.


I am sitting at 17K for my Novella #2. With Jeremy’s ideas, I am really hoping I can write the next 8K and get it finished. I had planned by May 31, but that is unlikely to happen. The hope is still to go for end of June for a completion date.

Need to work on finding cover artists. I found one on Deviant Art that I like, but she hasn’t responded to my emails asking about commissions. I’ll need to search more.

Need to e-mail a few editors and feel out that part of the process too.

Next week should see me back into a better routine, so hoping that will let me get back to the discipline I need to write.

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Light is coming at the end of the tunnel and I am close enough to see it isn’t another train. Check out other peoples checkins here.

Discipline Wins – Sunday Checkin – ROW80 – Week 6

At the halfway point of the ROW80, week 6 out of 12. So how am I doing with it?
In one word, better.

As I mentioned on Wednesday, I am working on my discipline and making progress. I wrote 6 out of the last 7 days AND even did some editing. The key has been doing it in the morning right after I wake up when the ideas are still in my head and it hasn’t been pushed out by work yet.

Monday: 550 words, 30 minutes
Tuesday: 500 words, 30 minutes writing, 30 minutes editing
Wednesday: 40 minutes editing
Thursday: 675 words, 35 minutes
Friday: 750 words, 40 minutes
Saturday: nothing
Sunday: 1350 words, 80 minutes

1 hour 10 minutes of editing. Yay.
3 hour 35 minutes writing for 3865 words.

Seriously one of the most successful weeks ever. I am so pleased. Especially because all those words and editing are on my main series. I didn’t get distracted on other projects. Not quite up to my original goals, but still really awesome.

Finally Moving Forward – ROW80 – Week 5

Slightly less than half way through the Round of Word 80 challenge and I finally feel like I am having a good week of discipline. I’ve mentioned on the last few check-ins that I have been struggling, which is true, but I think I made some good strides this week.

Am Writing

Goals: These have really mellowed from my overly ambitious goals at the beginning. Maybe I can ramp back up, but for now am happy to write a little bit every day and make any sort of editing progress in the week.

Monday: 550 words in 45min
Tuesday: 500 words in 45min AND 30min of editing
Wednesday: 300 words and some editing in 35min

The editing has been frightening me for a while, but I feel like I am getting back into it. I have started talking more often with a writer friend of mine has he has been quite supportive and gave me some great ideas on how to approach the editing. I think I was trying to do too much in Novella #2 which is why it felt too hard to edit. Too many ideas to cruelly chop them. And yet now I am working to smooth the story out a bit and push even certain characters later in the arc so I can explore my MC’s deeper. It felt good the past two days, so I am hopeful.

Am Reading

Lindsay Buroker’s Republic : So far really quite entertaining, like most of her stuff. Enjoying it and trying to feel inspired by reading it.

Am Doing Other Stuff

Work is going well, but busy. I’m happy I put my writing time in the morning. More chance of it actually happening.

Won’t make it to the gym this week, but oh well. Just too much going on with work deadlines.

Also up to writing my next installment of a column about fantasy writing as an expat. 🙂 Should be fun.

Returning to Discipline – ROW80 – Sunday Checkin – Week 5

The concept of discipline to write is becoming the theme of my time with ROW80.

Since last Sunday I have written 1700 words and this on two short mornings of 45minutes a piece.
I skipped Wednesday’s check-in due to the week exploding on me. I had software problems and bugs in my own stuff. Sleep deprivations and family sickness (including myself). These aren’t excuses, just an explanation. I really should have still put time into writing.

I have decided to just get up when I wake up and do some writing after breakfast. It was 45minutes on Wednesday before business called and I had to switch gears. So even if it is only 15-20 minutes WITH the cereal, I still want to do it then.

One thing I learned is that even though I felt I was stuck, the ideas are there. I just needed to start writing and I had scenes in my head from reading what I had written previously. I can see the holes in the story and need to just be able to plug them.

So it needs to come back to Discipline to put fingers to keyboard.

On Tropes

“I reject your reality and substitute my own.” – Intro line by one host on Mythbusters

I am a fantasy geek. I love quotes and all manner of strange geek inside jokes. And while the world of fantasy games and books doesn’t always match that of the reality we inhabit there is a lot of internal consistency and themes that connect the works. To that I really love the site TV Tropes. If you are a writer and don’t know the site, definitely check it out beyond my links. It is awesome.

What is a Trope? You ask.

They define tropes as “devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations.” And make a point that they are different than cliches, which are boring.

When I was designing the Crossing the Dropline series in my head I went to TV Tropes a number of times to understand what was out there and which parts of the fantasy landscape I wanted to explore. If you are one to say, “but to be recognized you need to break out of the stuff that has already been done,” then I say you need to be very familiar with what has been done, and we are back to Tropes.

World Building

Crossing the Dropline is a world of my own imagining, but it is of course influenced by lots of other things. Perhaps most heavily is the increasing popularity of Steampunk. I love the ideas of the higher technology in a pre-modern setting. I am just tired of the Victorians and clockwork. So I have pushed the series more into Dieselpunk, technology echoes more of a 1920’s-1930’s era with combustion engines. And yet there is a lot of magic around, just not necessarily wielded by the people.

Thematically the stories of the series are full of action. Pretty much I want them to be reminiscent of Anime series or of RPG campaigns. Characters getting into fights, villains lording it over them and all of that. And this brought me to the Trope called “Two Fisted Tales.” Add a fantasy world, so the concept of actual Nazis makes no sense, and that along with Dieselpunk is what I keep in mind when writing the world.

These aren’t perfect matches to what I want to do with the series, but there are definitely some inspiration.

Weapons and Fighting Styles

When one of the core aspects of the series is Anime inspired battles, weaponry is something to consider. Each character has his own preferred weapon and there is discussion amongst the characters about why they pick one over the other.

I knew I wanted to have both swords and pistols. Seriously, if Star Wars can manage this in a sci-fi context, I certainly can do it in my fantasy. By our 1920’s the use of swords was pretty much defunct, but I knew I wanted them around. I also like the high flying action of Wuxia that is seen in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Kung Fu Panda. Though because I want to keep things at least somewhat realistic, this fighting style is relegated to the magically imbued villains.

Villain Design

Queen of the Cloud Pirates is the first book of the series and the title refers to the main villain, Oorn, rather than the protagonist. She has the magical ability to control the wind and this control lends her insane agility, which she uses in her fighting and her villain-ness.

I built her based on a lot of inspiration from Anime again, so it makes sense that certain tropes would run around her character as well. To show you how awesome TV Tropes can be, I just found a pair that fit the queen well. I didn’t see their entries before I wrote her.

I have the high ground refers to the villains habit of standing above a situation often perched on a spire. Oorn does this, commonly. In fact it is one of things I really like about her, and I get to explain the ability within the world by her control of air. It makes her special.

The second one that ties in is called dramatic wind. In the second novella (due out in summer), during a scene of emotional importance Arnhelm, one of the heroes, notices how the wind around them changes based on Oorn’s mood. Again I get to have both the dramatic effect and to show her powers.  Again, I didn’t see these tropes beforehand, but they match perfectly.

Rule of Cool

If you spend enough time wandering (in normal Wiki style) from entry to entry deep into the night you will begin to see that the Rule of Cool is referenced over and over. The essence of this most central trope is that if it is cool in the story it is ok. This doesn’t fit in every genre, but the Anime influence that I am leaning on allows and almost requires it to be used.

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Cover3_100This is not an exhaustive list of the Tropes that fit some aspect of Crossing the Dropline. Though if any of this appeals I would definitely like to encourage you to check out the first book Queen of the Cloud Pirates.

Sunday Checkin – ROW80 – Week 4

And we come once again to Sunday and another ROW80 checkin. Wednesday’s check in was really wonderful with 2700 words written early in the week. I am sorry to say that I have not gotten anything to add to it since then.

I seem to have fallen into the rut of only writing when I am inspired by something. I am ok with that in general, but it is not the discipline that I want. I want to treat this as a job, meaning writing even if I am not feeling it. Oh well, trying not to be so hard on myself, but still knowing where I am heading.

I wrote 1.5 hours with 2700 words this week. No editing. For some reason the editing scares me.

On the other hand, this is pretty much the only goal across work and personal landscape that I didn’t make this week. Sunday is again the time we will rewrite our goal boards for the week and try again.

Ok, short check-in, but done.