Wonderful Progress – ROW80 – Wednesday Week 3

As I mentioned on Sunday, I made some great progress over the weekend. Well I happy to say that the progress continues.

Writing Goal: I wrote Nothing on Monday or Tuesday, but 2700 words today. 1300 each in the morning and evening. So totally into the scene and happy putting down words. And all of this on as of yet unnamed Novella #3 of Crossing the Dropline. I am happy to get progress on the main series going.

I even have ideas for Keeper of the Trees, so hope to get that done soon too. Feeling good about my writing progress.

Editing: On the other hand I have apparently taken a break on editing. I know I will need to get back to it, but I have an aversion to it at the moment. The doubt is strong when I am not just writing, so I am taking that energy and getting that part done.

Sponsoring: I got my sponsor cheerleading done on Tuesday morning. Hope to get better timed on this checkin.

Discipline: This is the hardest part in a way. To keep myself going despite the other things in my life and the doubt in my head. I have a new schedule for my week to be updated each Sunday. This will hopefully keep me organized and on track for work as well as writing. Today was the first day of the implementation of it and I feel really good about what I accomplished, including a buttload of work, the gym and some time playing games.

Check out the other ROWer’s on this check-in here

Trains are a wonderful place to write – Sunday ROW Checkin – Week 3

This will be pretty quick, mostly because it was late. I had a conference in Hamburg which meant 6 hours on the train each direction. Trains are AWESOME to write in apparently. Quiet, smooth and with power plugs.

Tuesday 800 words
Thursday 630 words
Friday 4300 words (yay trains)
Sunday 800 words

Grand Total : 6530 words for the week

I am so totally happy with this. I even got a little bit of editing done.

The writing ended up on two different stories. First, the as yet unnamed Novella #3 in the Crossing the Dropline series. Second, a standalone story called Keeper of the Trees. It was something I conceived while walking around Angkor Wat in February. In addition, based on a forum discussion I decided to write it where all main characters are female, which is a bit of a challenge.

I wrote it ages ago, but a post on Why I Write went up this morning as scheduled. And I am still hitting my deadlines for work, which is nice. I am running a day late on my ROW Sponsorship duties, but I will catch up tomorrow.

Still aiming at 5000 words and 2 hours of editing a week. Would love to have Book 2 ready for publishing in June with the other two spaced out over the summer. Last Wednesday’s lesson was to record what I write. To that end I am just tweeting it out with the #amwriting hashtag for the moment.

Oh well, busy day today, but got the check in done. Tomorrow is another day to work on my discipline. How are things with your work in progress?

Why Do I Write

My education background is engineering and computer work. I actively avoided English classes as an engineering student in fact. Not that I hated books at all, I loved fantasy books with the biggest box to be hauled back and forth to school was of paperbacks. So I am intrigued how much I have fallen into writing. So I went a bit introspective to answer the question as to Why do I Write?

Exploration and Sharing Stories

I want to share the stories that are in my head. I get excited about having people enjoy the things that I write.

As Ali and I travel I get all kinds of grand ideas in my head. These are wonderful glowing ideas that I think deserve to be developed. Of course that isn’t true on all of them, but I really like the idea of seeing the flitter of ideas grow into stories that entertain others.

I have a world in my head aching to get out. And really I enjoy the characters and the exploration of the world greatly. It is interesting to sit down with some scenes and watch the characters do their things. I want to explore cities and lands in the world as well. This is like mental-wanderlust.


Having the writing helps me practice discipline. Discipline to write (nearly)every day and to take it seriously.

A part of this discipline is my deep desire to actually finish projects. I have long been a dabbler and a procrastinator. That does not make necessarily a productive combo. I learned long ago how to be disciplined about my school projects and later work projects. I like the idea of bending this discipline into my hobbies as well.


Ok, there is certainly a financial aspect to this project as well. I want a secondary income stream to smooth out the hills and valleys of being a freelancer. Money is a great motivator as well. If I have people willing to pay me to read what I have wrote, they are interested and entertain enough to do so, then why shouldn’t I write more to entertain them further.

I just finished “Write. Publish. Repeat.“(affiliate link) and it was very motivating. I want to make writing a business. A business focused on writing good books that entertain readers and make them happy to buy more of what I write.

–  – –

I am not one of those that wrote their first novel at 13, but I think that is ok. I was into stories, reading books and playing RPGs as a kid. I have never stopped reading and love my genre. I have always had games and half books in my head. Now I am just getting to writing them down and polishing them from the mental glory stage to something that is entertaining to read.

Friends and Holidays – Wednesday CheckIn Week 3

So yeah, I missed the Sunday check-in. That should give you a sense of how the weekend went. I got no writing of any kind done between last Wednesday and Easter Sunday, so I just decided the check-in would not be motivating. I did however peruse the other ROW80ers in my role as a sponsor and was happy to see that others were not as non-productive as I was.

It was still a great weekend with some visiting friends. We got to go to France for lunch (it is awesome to be able to do that) and went up a local hill on a cable car that was fun (and inspiring for my Steampunk writing, gotta have cable cars somewhere.)

In other news from last week, the first post of a new column at Displaced Nation went up. I am exploring the connections and relationships between travel and fantasy writing. The column is called Here There Be Dragons.

As for Goals:

I wrote 800words yesterday, which is about what I have done since last Wednesday. I have managed an hour of editing. However I did do a plot outline for Novella 3.

So all in all, not so good on my goals this week. It is a good reminder that if I can get myself to just open up the Scrivener and stare at it that I can produce words.

Lessons and Outlook:

I really need to track what I write. I mean I am pretty sure I got no more than 800 this week done, but between the guests and activities I don’t have a lot of space in my brain for that kind of stuff. I need to write it down.

I have a business trip up for this weekend. Which means 6 hours on the train in both directions. So I will get as much writing time as my laptop battery survives. So I am really hoping to get more done.

Writing as a Business

I want to make my writing a business. It may be a small business, but I definitely want to treat it as more than just a hobby. And as readers, this should make you happier to read my books. Why?

Entertaining Readers becomes Central

To make writing more of a business, I need to figure out how to please the customer-readers. So in essence I need to entertain you in order for you to be interested in paying for my stories. If this was just a hobby, I would be content writing books that no one else wanted to read.

It also means that if I write a self-contained pilot to a series that no one likes, then I won’t do more of it. Hence giving me time to do things that people do actually like.

Long Term Thinking

As a self-published author of (at the moment) only one book, I know I need to take a much longer view of things. I as a reader don’t like to get invested in a series that I know might take a while to finish. (I remember reading the Wheel of Time through each time there was a new book to the point I am not even interested in the ending anymore.) So I am dedicated to finishing the series to a satisfying end before I market it heavily.

This long term thinking also means I can work on building a set of readers that enjoys my stuff. This decision  means thinking about business plans and making decisions based on those plans. I plan to have the Crossing the Dropline series be a group of seasons each of 6 books. I will continue to write them as long as I have ideas and people willing to read them.


I definitely know I need to diversify as well. Again as a reader I know that I like certain author’s worlds and characters, but sometimes I just want them to be done. For the stories to be finished and let some set of characters finally get on with their life after the torture of being in the crosshairs of an author pumping them full of conflict. Move on to someone else and talk about their cool story.

Ideas are rarely my problem. I have plenty of stories spread around the Dropline world. As I get ahead on the main storyline I will be working on standalone novellas. Keeper of the Trees and Catman are already started. I even have ideas outside of the Dropline world and a couple outside of the fantasy realm totally.

So as a reader, expect that I will look to broaden the world that I have created and explore it with you. I like my worlds and want to poke into a lot of different areas of it.


And lastly, looking at this writing as a business helps me keep writing. If I treat it with the same professionalism I treat any other job or client project, I get results. I set deadlines and get myself to work on the books. Self-publishing has given me the channel to the immediate feedback that I think I was lacking earlier in my life when I started looking at novel and story ideas. Now I know what happens when a project is done. It gets put out there for readers to enjoy. That is a wonderful feeling.

Where this comes from

I definitely believe what I wrote here, but the crystallization of the ideas came from reading “Write. Publish. Repeat.“(affiliate link) by a couple of guys that run the Self Publishing Podcast. They write novellas in short series even going as far as calling them episodes and seasons. I love this and fell in love with this idea before I even heard about them. I love the idea of books being more like TV series.

The book is about their ideas of how a self-published author can make a living these days. I like tone of the book (tons of humor) and I totally see myself as Dave (the curmudgeon who thinks marketing is evil). That said I am into having this writing be more than a hobby and with that comes the business aspects. I will learn. And I hope as readers you will benefit.

If you like what you hear, definitely check out Queen of the Cloud Pirates as well as sign up for my newsletter to hear about new books and occasional short stories.

#ROW80 – Wednesday Update : Week 2

Up to week 2 on ROW 80. I am a freelance developer, which means work comes in waves. I had a long time free to work on writing and this week started in with projects again. I enjoy projects, but it means shifting time again and figuring out where writing fits. I think I am doing well with it so far.

Sunday: 1100 words written on blog posts Hamburg Speicherstadt and a post that will go up on Displaced Nation later this week.
Monday: nothing
Tuesday: 1 hour of editing and 250words written
Wednesday: 1200 words written and 15 minutes of editing

So I am on track for the week. A shame that most of the words written were not on my mainline novellas. I had originally thought I would not count blogging in my “words written”, but now I will. Today I wrote a fair amount, but on a different story. I seem to keep opening up projects when I need to be finishing them. This one is a set of short stories based on the Story Prompts at SelfPublishingPodcast and around the early life of one of Crossing the Dropline’s main characters, Jason.

Overall I am finding my creativity again. I spent a few hours reading an awesome webcomic with talking animals call Beyond the Western Deep. I like the storytelling in it. Hoping to learn from everywhere. The rest of the week may end up being a wash. We have guests for Easter weekend, but we shall see. It may be a good time to ruminate.

Remaining: 3.75 hours of editing and 2700 words to write.

Roleplaying Games as a basis for Fantasy Writing

I don’t have any data, but I would expect that most (if not all) of today’s fantasy authors played role-playing games as kid. As I delve deeper into my own writing, I notice how much those experiences influenced me. Not just the books that I read as a young man, but also the games I put together with my friends in college, late night, on a Friday. And really both the successes and failures of RPG sessions have influenced how I see a story as good or not. Much of what I like in a fantasy story is affected by those sort of games.

So it got my thinking, how the games that I used to read (I read way more game books than I ever actually played.) developed over the years. To me they are getting closer to feeling like writing spontaneous stories in addition to games.

The Great Grandfather of them All.

The most well known roleplaying game is probably Dungeons and Dragons (DnD). It started as a branch out of wargaming and grew from there. At least how I experienced it, characters were often flat and served as hanging places for cool imaginary weapons. I have heard stories from from friends that other groups were better at the more character driven epic stories. Though they still centered around rolling dice in combat.

Storytelling becomes central

Then come White Wolf with their idea of Storytelling games. They were definitely not the only one doing it at the time, but probably the most well known. The books talked more about making stories driven on the character and the character’s desires. Stats in DnD focused quite heavily on combat and external conflict. One of the hallmarks of White Wolf games for me was a couple of stats based around the internal conflict of the character. Their well known Vampire : the Masquerade game had a mechanical game way to measure how close the vampire character was to losing his humanity. This meant that the players had to balance actions and make tough choices on behalf of their characters to manage this stat.

As an aside, one of the later games from White Wolf was Exalted. Many of their early games were based in a modern world paralell to our own. Exalted was pure fantasy and one of the heavy influences on me for building Crossing the Dropline as a world. The anime influence and the elemental directions are inspired in part from that game, though they are not at all the same place.

Mechanics Echo the Writing Process

Burning Wheel is more recent game system. I first encountered it in the Mouse Guard RPG in a boiled down form. The core mechanics of the system really get to the conflict of the character. Each character has instincts and beliefs that influence (and sometimes dictate) their actions. These are set off by goals, both short and long term. In many game systems character advancement is based on XP points gained from combat or from just playing. Burning Wheel requires characters to go after their goals and challenge their beliefs for XP points. This starts to get really close to how character driven fantasy stories are built.

– – –

I have had ideas of whether I could sit down with a game system and play it solo, writing down how things happened with the dice and generate a story. I think it would work, but somehow doing it all alone seems like a lot of hassle when I can just built it in my head and directly onto the paper. The mechanics of the game that protects players from each other isn’t really needed. That said, I do still think about how my stories would feel as games.

* – In hunting for some data to back up my first sentence I ran across this post from Chuck Wendig about Writers and Roleplaying Games, which is pretty cool.

#ROW80 Sunday Check-in : Week 1

So my totals for the first week of ROW80 aren’t perfect, but not horrible.

I wanted to do 1000 words and half an hour of editing a day for 5 of 7 days. I am striving for daily consistency, but am summarizing a bit for the week. That would be 5K words and 2.5 hours of editing.

What I Actually did:

  • 3500 words on stories
  • 3.5 hours of editing

So not at all a horrible week, but slightly less than I aimed at. I hit a steep spot in the editing and a “doubt in myself” feeling that affected the writing.

Novella 2 is in a complete First Draft stage. I am poking at the other projects trying to make progress where ever I can.

Coming up this week:

  • I actually have client projects. After several months of being between contracts, I will start working again tomorrow. I am actually really hoping that the discipline of doing programming will help get me to do writing as well.
  • My inspiration post as a ROW sponsor is going up tomorrow and there is a post scheduled here as well.
  • I have a post due to go up on Thursday at Displaced Nation.


#ROW80 – Wednesday Update : Week 1

Only two days into the Round of Words challenge. I’m doing fine though. Click here for other ROWer’s first Midweek checkin.

Monday – 1150 words written.
Tuesday – Net 724 written, but I tossed a few scenes, so the number actually written is higher. This was a part of an hour of editing too.

I am still working on Novella #2 still tentatively titled “Resholm Rising“, though I will likely need a new title. So the editing and the writing are blended. I really think I am at 99% on that first draft though. I will try to do one more editing run before letting it rest for a few days.

Sponsoring Duties: Yup, keeping up. Already submitted my inspirational post and have enjoyed perusing the goals of other ROWers.

Next Project: I want to work on Catman or Keeper of the Trees at least some before diving back into book #3 of Crossing the Dropline.

Other Tasks: I have started contemplating covers and editors. I did the cover of Queen of the Cloud Pirates myself and while I quite like it, it doesn’t fit 100% to the genre and took oodles of time. I want to relaunch book 1 with a different cover when book 2 is done, so I have been working on that. As for an editor, I need to just suck up the money and seek out someone to proof the books before I publish them.

I have posts set up for this blog every Monday into May, which is awesome. I have just committed to a short series on Travel and Fantasy Writing at the Displaced Nation though, so I am glad the author blog is set.

A Round of Words : Goals

I am participating in the A Round of Words in 80 days and this is my goals post for the round starting April 7. I am also a sponsor this round, which is totally exciting. To see so many writers work on their projects and cheer them on.

Check out the other Goals Posts on the Linky List.

Open Projects

I have a lot of open projects at the moment. The overarching goal is to finish (some) of these projects.

  • Finish Novella #2 of Crossing the Dropline – ~2-3K left
  • Edit Novella #2 of Crossing the Dropline – Editting 27K
  • Write Novella #3 – 8K done, another 17K to write
  • Write standalones in the Dropline world – Keeper of the Trees and Catman each aiming at 20K words
  • I could go back to Jahn’s story, which is the unfinished novel that spawned the Dropline world.

Goals for ROW80

In the spirit of the Round of Words, I will set some specific measurable goals.

I will write at least 1000 words and edit for a half and hour, 5 out of the 7 days of the week.

That should garner me a little over 60K words across the project, which should be enough for Novella #3 and both standalones. Once I get into writing, I often can write very fast, so I am hoping for a lot more, but trying to keep the goal attainable and meaningful to accomplish. The 5 out of 7 means I still should have time to sleep/blog/hang out with my wife/hold down a job. Editing time is the added challenge, but is aimed at producing a publishable Novella #2 as soon as possible.

If you are a writer with a blog, definitely swing by the ROW80 and join in. You can join in even after the round has begun on April 7th 2014, so no excuses just because you came later.