Morg’s Story

Morg stomped onto the deck of the Wind Raven with a leg of meat in one hand and his hammer in the other. Sounds of battle already came from below. He knew the rest would have started without him, but he couldn’t fight on an empty stomach.

In two bites and two steps the large man devoured his lunch and made it to the side of the airship. He looked over the edge, down several fathoms to the skirmish below. Large green creatures assaulted the outpost below, Morg’s colleagues already working to cull them. With the shrill battle cry of his people he leapt over the side trusting that his armor would absorb the shock of the fall.

A full second later, he landed on the soft ground below with a sploosh and a thud. The hsock of the impact felt good in his legs. Without any more thought he singled out the largest bog creature of the bunch as his first victim. He threw the bone of his lunch to get the attention of the green mass of vines. The bone bounced off what he assumed was the head and it turned toward him. He grabbed his great hammer now with two hands.

“Come and get me, ugly boy.”

The creature was not as stupid as some of the things of the deep wilds that they had fought. It did not charge in with a shriek, but shambled closer to him almost confidently. Then faster than he could move in his massive angular silver armor, a blow came from the creature. It struck him in the side and make him give ground. A whir began soft at first.

Morg took a quick swipe to keep the creature focused on him and then another step back. He set his feet solidly and waited. He could afford to be patient. He was just getting warmed up.

The creature opened a wide maw with jagged wooden spikes as teeth. It issues a blood curdling scream and took one massive step toward Morg, unleashing several blows at once as its vines streaked forward. Morg made no move to defend himself, confident in his stance. Each blow whacked him but slid off. With each strike the whir grew loader into a whine that pierced the battle. Now he was getting into things, Morg thought.

Morg felt the power of his armor build as the whine grew shrill. He could sense the crackling anticipation of energy in the hammer, drawing its power from the suit through a thick wire. He spun the hammer lightly in his hands and took to the offensive. One step, two, he took toward the tall writhing green thing in front him. The fact that it was nearly double his height did not bother him at all.

He raised the hammer above his head and dropped one great overhand blow onto the creatures feet. Ichor splashed about, but apparently did not slow the creature which managed to step out of range of Morg’s next to blows. Morg let it, knowing he had time yet.

The bog monster formed itself an arm and swung heavily toward Morg. Once, twice, Morg ducked the blow avoiding the blows, letting the creature overextend.

“Ok now I’m bored,” Morg quipped. “Let’s end this.” He shifted his grip on the hammer and twisted a section of it. Electricity surged through the weapon from his suit with a great thunderclap. Crackling sparks leapt back to his gauntlets from the hammer as well as arcing into the air. He felt renewed power and strength flow through his arms.

The creature stopped its assault at the change that had overcome its opponent. Morg used this opening to once again raise his hammer high over his head. It was theatrics, he knew, but he liked the theatrics. He channelled all of his battle rage into the one blow and brought down the heavy head his his warhammer down onto the creature before him. Whereas his previous blows had certainly injured the creature, this blow obliterated it. His hammer crackled as it fell but otherwise smashed through the creature as if it was nothing more than stewed spinach. Morg let his hammer fall all the way to the ground leaving an imprint there.

As he recovered from his almighty blow, Morg realized the jungle had quieted down. The hum of the airship above remained, but otherwise not much more than the creak of trees in the wind and dripping of water reached his ears. A stench of burning plants reached his nose from the charred squishy mass in front of him, all that remained of the massive bog creature.

He looked around at the faces of his compatriots. “Enough with exercise,” Morg said. “Back up top for lunch?”

— The trooper class is a true tank. Slow and patient, building up steam from hits he absorbs, unleashing it all in one big smash.

In fits and spurts – Final Checkin – ROW80

This is the final check-in for Round 2 of ROW80. It has been a great experience and has gotten me to write more than I normally would. I haven’t really met my original goals though. Granted I had really high flying goals, but I am ok with aiming really high and not hitting them.

Writing

Since my last check-in over a week ago, I have only written 1500 words, but that in one morning.

I did a quick run through my checkin’s and added up my reported words. I come up with 27K total. There may be a few recounts, but that is a good rough number. In general that is a really cool number. That is essentially what I shoot at for the length of a novella. So in 12 weeks I wrote enough for a novella.

My original goal was 5000 a week, so 60K total. So I hit slightly less than half of that, but I am sill ok with it. That is 27K more than I didn’t have at the beginning. I laugh at myself when I read that goals post where I implied that 1000words a day 5 days a week is difficult, yet attainable. It doesn’t feel so attainable at the end here, but I still think it should have been. If I just dedicate 40minutes a day I know the works will flow.

I had originally hoped to have three books done, but it was not meant to be. I have one nearly done and enough material for a first draft of a second. The third and a standalone are half done as well. So overall decent progress, just not as much as I had originally hoped..

Checkins

There are 24 overall checkins, but I only made 15 of them. I kind of decided on the days that I didn’t have any progress to report that I wasn’t into doing a checkin. I don’t know how I feel about that. On one hand writing excuses and explanations why I didn’t write for a few days felt both unpleasant and un-progress-ful. (That is a word, I made it up.) On the other hand, part of this ROW project is the regular checkins to help responsibility. On a few of the non-progress checkins that I did do I got some wonderful helpful advice.

I’m definitely going to continue with ROW next round. It is a great project. Not sure if I will try to just do one checkin a week or go abck to trying everyone. We shall see.

Sponsoring

I was a sponsor this round. It was a wonderful experience. I did get a bit overwhelmed in places though. One some checkins I had 4-5 posts to read and try to make constructive comments that didn’t sound like cheap “way to go” clones. I wanted to be able to offer something more than a single sentence. I did ok overall. I think I fulfilled the requirements, but I didn’t go much beyond them some weeks.

I will not do sponsoring next round, but I would definitely encourage anyone interested in the project to sign up.

Other Projects

So I have really learned that I can balance about two projects reasonably over time. Just two. I really expected to be able to do more, but it doesn’t seem like that. Three seems to go ok for a short time, but it wears me out very quickly.

So I have my day job. This round it has been half time as a web developer for a great little startup. Early in the Round I had a second project for a client in Switzerland. I was able to manage those two and writing for a short amount of time. Then I kind of got stuck on the writing and a month ago started another personal project which sucked all of my time.

So it isn’t just the concept of projects to balance, but the personal passion store as well. I am really interested in writing the novella series. I too want to see what happens to the characters. It isn’t my training though. That means nothing except sometimes writing takes a lot of energy. I often find myself being pulled in another direction. This round it was the Peanut Butter Bar (that little floaty bar at the top of the site.) It started as a joke that turned into a project that I think is actually saleable. (Mail me if you want to be on the beta round for it. More info on http://peanutbutterplugins.com coming soon.) So I have been pouring time into getting it ready and am making wonderful progress. This has however taken my writing time and energy. There are a lot more pieces to making a saleable plugin than I ever imagined. That isn’t necessarily bad as I am truly enjoying the project, but it means I need to work on balancing against the writing.

Lessons Learned

This has been a great experience overall. I am definitely going to continue next round in July. I did learn a few things.

1) Discipline is important. Forcing myself to sit down with a story that is frightening me and work on it. I am amazed to see the words flow when I just force myself to work on it.

2) Planning helps discipline. If I plan time for something and write down that plan, I am far far more likely to actually take that time and not get distracted by– oo a squirrel. Oh wait where was I?

3) Juggling work projects with personal projects is easier than juggling several personal projects. The one with the slight edge of passion and ease of doing (programming is easier than writing for me) seems to win. And win big in terms of sucking time. As mentioned, this isn’t a bad thing as I really do enjoy the Peanut Butter Bar project, but it is something I learned.

4) Wednesday is a lot closer to Sunday than I realized.

Going Forward

Next round I am getting much more diverse in my goals. So many of the ROWers have fitness, reading and social goals on their list. I like that.

I also like the format that Denise D Young used on her checkins. There is a message at the beginning and each of the weekly goal is tallied with a progress. I think I’ll work up something like that and try to stick to it.

Overall this has been a great experience and look forward to continuing. Check out other’s last checkins here.

Wednesday Checkin – ROW80 – Week 10

So again I missed on Sunday checkin. One of the things I am learning as a work-at-home freelancer is that “day of the week” concept becomes very hazy sometimes. That said I am working on plans and schedules to keep myself on track.

Writing Progress since last Wednesday

Thursday – Guest post on my wife’s travel site about Cinque Terre, Italy. Started another one about tips for eating while in Italy.
Friday – 760 words
Saturday/Sunday – no writing
Monday – 1350 words
Tuesday – nothing
Wednesday – 480 words

So it isn’t every day that I get to write, but I am getting better at more regular. I had some grand ideas at the gym on Monday which really helped. I don’t feel stuck in the story anymore. Hopefully I can push on until the end.

Other Projects

  • I have been pouring a ton of time into the bar on the top of the site. I am working on a lot of other features and plan to get it up for sale this summer.
  • Been doing a bit of blog-post writing for Ali’s site.
  • Sponsorship for ROW80.
  • Regular gym attendance. It sucks that the gym is 30minutes away, but going makes me feel better and I often end up with good ideas while working out.

It has turned to summer here in Germany, which is not at all a bad thing. It does however mean that it is warm and without A/C getting used to sleeping in the warm is a bit of a thing to deal with. I have been tired a lot. I am really pleased with progress on all fronts despite that tired. I do notice that the tired state increases my creativity at the cost of the ability to push and get stuff done. I keep feeling new projects bloom in my mind and I have been trying to write them down to not forget, but also not let them take time from finishing projects already near their ending.

Overall a decent week.

Back into the Groove – ROW80 – Wednesday Checkin Week 8

Again I missed last Sunday’s check in, but due to a good excuse this time. My wife and I did a long weekend in Munich. I got to sit in the sun at a beer garden all afternoon hanging out with her. Work started back at a normal routine this week, and happily the writing habit came back too. A bit spluttery with quality, but the words are still there.

Progress

M : 750
T : 300
W : 500

I am still struggling a bit with the story, but I had some great thoughts at the gym yesterday that I hope will get me closer to finished. I’ve been doing other things as well. An article I wrote a few weeks ago about getting inspired from travel for landscapes in stories went up yesterday.

Helping Ali on her site about helping first time travelers (Travel Made Simple) and getting her book on packing up as well. The little floating bar on the top of the author site (yes, right up there) is my work as well and has a bunch of different features planned.

Finished reading Republic and Deathmaker by Lindsay Buroker, enjoying both.

Plans for the Week

One more day of work on Thursday and I have Friday off. So hoping to really push through somehow this weekend and get the story done. I am hoping my ideas from yesterday are enough to get it there. This is a story that came back into draft writing from the editing phase, so will have to go back to editing.

Impediments

I still need to hunt editors and figure out covers. I keep playing with covers and get frustrated. I’ll get there though.

– – –

Happy I am getting back into checking in and writing. Check out other ROWers check-ins here.

 

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.

Stuck
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.

Plans

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.

– – –

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.

– – –

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.