End-of-Year Update (and Changes)

As we near the end of 2018, I figured it was time for me to take a look at my writing goals and see how well I’ve been doing, and if I need to make some adjustments.

This was an interesting exercise, and it comes with some realizations that I wasn’t terribly happy to see, but that are necessary for me to actually achieve my goals.

So I’m going to start with my actual goals, as that’s the most important part.

Writing Goals

  • First and foremost, writing for me is something that I’m driven to do, and which I enjoy immensely. As long as I continue to want to write, as long as it brings me happiness, then things are working well regardless of any other metric I may choose to measure.
  • My second goal is to complete my writing projects. It’s fine to just write, but if I never end up with a finished story or novel, then I’m just puttering. While this goal is subservient to my first goal above, it’s very closely related. I know that if I’m not finishing my writing projects, then something in my writing process is broken, and it means that I’m probably not enjoying some part of this.
  • My third goal is to put my finished writing projects in a form that others can read. Whether this is just throwing a short story up on my website, or producing a full novel in electronic and hard-copy form, I want to share what I do with others. Of course, having this as my third goal means that if I’m spending too much time on this step, then I’m not actually writing. So I need to find a happy balance here.
  • My fourth goal is to promote my stories and novels so that others might find them. This is not specifically about selling my stuff. I’m not in this for the money—though I would absolutely love to make enough to do this for a living if it was possible—but I do have a desire to have others read what I create. And I’d like to make some money at it as well.

And, surprisingly, that’s it. I had a few other goals that came up in my mind when I was doing this exercise, but it turned out that I could fit all of them into one of the four goals above. And when I made it down the list of possible goals to the point where they didn’t fit, I realized that I was reaching and those goals just weren’t that important to me after all.

So How Am I Doing?

The next step, of course, was to compare 2018 with my goals and see where I ended up this year.

For the goal of writing (and getting pleasure from it), it was actually a mixed bag. I’m certainly doing a lot of writing. I’ve written over eighty thousand words on this blog alone.

Eighty thousand words.

Almost a novel.

Almost another novel.

And for happiness? Well, this is where I have to be brutally honest with myself. As much as I love roleplaying games—and most of my blog posts have been about that exact topic—the truth is that I’d much rather write fiction than write posts on the blog.

Writing on the blog is something that I’m doing because, as an author, I’m supposed to have a platform. I’m supposed to provide value to readers, to give them a reason to come back to my blog over and over. And that is supposed to help me find eyeballs for my fiction.

But the thing is…it’s not working.

It’s not working on a couple of levels. First, it’s not really working in getting people interested in my fiction projects. The fact is, no matter how many visitors I get to my blog each week—and I’m actually pretty happy with that number, as it’s a lot higher than I expected I would be able to achieve—those people aren’t turning into readers of my fiction.

In truth, though I have had a dozen short stories posted for the past year that visitors can read for free, and even download them as epub and mobi files, that part of my site is the least-visited of all.

Anyway, bringing this back to my primary goal, the fact is that I’m not happy. I’m doing this writing because I committed to myself that I would make a blog post each week, not because it’s bringing me any pleasure.

And what’s much worse is that this blog is taking time away from me doing the writing that does bring me pleasure.

Which leads me to my second goal.

The Traitor and the Thief should have been out earlier this year. It’s not done yet. I stalled out on it for months. And as I look back with that 20/20 hindsight we all wish was foresight, I realize that it’s because I’ve been distracted with other writing. I’ve been working on building a platform to promote writing that I haven’t had time to complete.

And it’s not just the next novel. I have a roleplaying game product that I wanted to get out many months ago, but the blog has eaten all of that time, as well. But I’ll talk a bit more about Rooms with a View in a bit.

My third goal certainly hasn’t been met. Other than this blog, I haven’t managed to finish a single writing project this year, so I haven’t had anything to put in a publishable form. Except for Rooms with a View, and that’s not out yet either.

And my fourth goal is one that I thought I could say I’ve achieved. This blog is the result of that. Except when I really looked at it (as I noted above), this blog isn’t actually helping me promote my novels or stories. This blog is getting attention for the blog posts about roleplaying games, and that’s it. So I can’t exactly say that this goal has been met, either.

Regroup and Reorganize

I’m not happy.

That’s the end result of 2018 when it comes to writing. If I was putting the effort and energy into my novels that I’ve been putting into this blog, then I would likely have finished the Undying Empire: Rebellion trilogy by now.

But I haven’t met my first goal. Or my second goal. Or my third goal. Or my fourth goal.

I’ve let myself become distracted by things that I do enjoy to a point. But they aren’t why I write.

So, the fact is, something has to change.

My focus has to change.

And that means this blog has to change.

I had made a commitment to write a blog post each week, and my desire was to post something that was interesting or useful to my visitors. But that commitment takes me away from the commitments to myself that are more important.

So I’m going to be refocusing my efforts. Those four goals above are what’s most important to me when it comes to my writing. And so when I write, those four goals, in order, are going to be on my mind and will drive the time I spend on writing and the related activities.

So What’s Next?

I’m not abandoning this blog. That’s not what this is about. It’s about spending my creative energy wisely. So I’m not going to go back to my first couple of years on here and only post every four-to-six months, if that.

It does mean, however, that posting every week is not achievable. It takes too much time away from the writing that I need to be doing. If I was a full-time writer, it would be different. But I can’t abandon my day job any time soon.

I will still write about roleplaying games, and other things that interest me. But those posts are going to be written when I’m motivated to write them. Not just because it’s Sunday and I’ve got a schedule to keep.

It means that there won’t be a post here every week. At least not until something else changes.

It means that I’m going to finish The Traitor and the Thief, and then I’m going to write the Revenant and the Reaper.

It also means that some elements of this blog are going to be restructured.

Other Projects

So what are all my writing projects again? Here’s a quick summary:

  • The Traitor and the Thief—This past month, as I realized I was spending too much time on the blog, I dove back into the manuscript. And I’m already feeling reinvigorated. Just the realization that I was going to relax on the blog has given me new energy, and I’m writing almost every day, whenever I get the chance. So things are…progressing. It’s too early to say anything more than that.
  • The Revenant and the Reaper—Obviously, my first goal is to complete the middle book in the trilogy. But I intend to dive right in to the final book immediately after. I want to build some momentum here, and then use it to keep things rolling to that there’s not another two-year gap between novels.
  • Origin—I still have the young teen novella that I wrote for my son. My idea is to get some pencil illustrations, one for each chapter, and I don’t know exactly when I’m going to do that. This fits solidly into my third writing goal, so it’ll happen when I feel I have the bandwidth to deal with it.
  • Rooms with a View—The writing on this one is complete. The layout is even complete. The delay in getting this out have been on the creation of the updated maps. I’ve done a couple of them, but doing good maps is a time-consuming effort, and it keeps getting pushed to the back burner. I’m considering some options, though the truth is I make so little on these kinds of products that paying for cartography is not really an option right now. So I don’t have a good answer.

Anything else falls under the “Miscellaneous” tab and is so far down the list that there’s no point in discussing it at this point. I’ve got a novel to complete, and another to write. That’s my focus now.

Do You Write?

I do hope this blog post is interesting to other writers who are having trouble meeting their goals. It’s hard to manage all the other elements that go along with writing and publishing and still have creative energy to finish your novel.

Me taking the time to write down my goals and seriously think about whether or not my efforts are actually aligning with them was something that I should have done a long time ago. But again, hindsight is 20/20.

So I encourage other writers to take a good look at what you’re doing. Is your energy being spent where it will do the most good, where it will bring you closer to achieving what you want to achieve?

If not, then make the necessary changes. It’s not fun, but it needs to be done.

Conclusion

So, this blog is going to undergo a change. For those who have just started following the blog due to the Dungeon-A-Week series, I don’t intend to completely abandon that effort. But I’ll need to change the name to Dungeon-When-I-Have-The-Creative-Energy-That-Doesn’t-Take-Away-From-My-Other-Writing-Projects Series.

Okay, maybe I’ll need to rethink that name.

If you’ve read this far, thank you.

If you’ve read my blog at all, thank you.

But now it’s time for me to get back to writing.

Writing Update – April 2017

 

This month I’m going to change around how I do these updates to make it clearer the order in which things are happening. I’m also adding a summary list at the top if you just want to know the status.

List of projects:

  1. Tales of the Undying EmpireKindle and print versions available from Amazon; complete.
  2. The Traitor and the Thief – Manuscript completed, waiting for final pass before going to beta readers.
  3. The Broken Temple of Yinak – Story completed, ready for editing, will be posted in April.
  4. Origin – Awaiting review and decision on how to move forward.
  5. The Revenant and the Reaper – Outline completed, working on chapter-by-chapter plan.
  6. The Darkness in the Deep – Outline completed, chapter-by-chapter plan completed.

Tales of the Undying Empire

With both the kindle version and the physical book available from Amazon, this is now complete. Unfortunately, Amazon is still working on linking the two entries and making sure they both show up on my Author page, but I’ve notified of them of this and it should be corrected soon.

The Traitor and the Thief

This has been sitting waiting for my final pass before it goes to my beta readers. The Broken Temple of Yinak (see below) has taken up more of my time than I originally planned, but I’m ready to get to the final pass now and I will be focusing all my energy on this until it’s out to the beta readers. I’m not making any promises on timing, though, because sometimes I find things that I had missed earlier that requires a bit more work to correct.

But I’m working hard and I hope to have good news next month.

The Broken Temple of Yinak

This is the first story of Kaus Kagunvar, and I wanted it to be just right. And so instead of a short story, I’ve actually written a novella. I hadn’t planned to do it this way, but the story needed to be told in a particular way, and I can’t say I’m disappointed in the result.

So I will be posting this in its entirety next week as my “short story” for the month. I have additional stories about this character planned, and it wouldn’t surprise me if some more of these turn out to be novella length as well.

But other than The Broken Temple of Yinak, I will probably hold onto the other stories and publish them all in a collection once I have enough to make it worthwhile. This is going to take some time, as I’m going to work on them between my other novels. But I really enjoyed writing about Kaus Kagunvar, and I hope you enjoy reading about his exploits.

Origin

Not much to say here this month. Once The Traitor and the Thief is off to my beta readers, I’ll review the story and figure out what work needs to be done to get this published. But considering everything else that’s going on, I could see this one being delayed until much later in the year.

The Revenant and the Reaper

I already know how the Undying Empire: Rebellion trilogy is going to end, and I have a fully-complete outline for this book done. I need to work on my chapter-by-chapter plan, but that comes after I take a look at Origin and usually happens right before I start writing (while everything is fresh in my mind and I’m excited to get working on it).

The Darkness in the Deep

Just to be clear, this is a working title only. But this is the next novel in the Tales of the Undying Empire series, and signals the return of Jeyrra and Flasek from The Severed Oath. I already have the outline and the chapter-by-chapter plan completed, and so I’m ready to start writing it as soon as I finish The Revenant and the Reaper.

This Blog

I don’t usually talk about this blog in my plans, other than the short story that I’m going to post. But I’ve been blogging steadily every week since I set out my plan here back in July of last year. I’ve managed to keep it going without missing a single week, and I’m pretty happy with the way things are.

I’ve taken a look at what posts get the most attention, and the clear winner is my posts about stuff I find cool. My posts about The One Ring, Night’s Black Agents, The Conan RPG, and Talislanta: Savage Lands are the highest-viewed posts by far, with my Reading & Writing posts in second place, followed by everything else.

I’m pretty happy with the reads I’m getting on my short stories, despite the fact that the posts about them are pretty low in views—but it’s the stories themselves that matter, so that’s not a big deal.

I’m not quite ready to change anything up here, but I’ve been considering what I might want to add or drop. I’ll keep an eye on things for the next couple of months, and probably make a change right around the one-year mark. Not sure what the change will be, but I know I’ll definitely make some adjustments.

That’s it for this week. I can’t wait to share The Broken Temple of Yinak with you next Sunday.

Writing Update – March 2017

I’m going to change up the order of my updates this month to highlight the biggest news first.

Tales of the Undying Empire

The Kindle Omnibus Edition of the first three novels in the Tales of the Undying Empire series is now live at Amazon!

I’ve priced this Omnibus so that you get all three novels for the price of two if you bought them separately.

The files for the print version of the Tales of the Undying Empire Omnibus Edition have been submitted, and I’m just waiting on final approval from Amazon for it to go live. I expect this will be available for order by the end of this coming week.

The print edition took a lot of work to produce the final product. At 728 pages in a 6” x 9” format, this is a hefty volume. But I’m very happy with the finished book, and I’m excited to see what others think of it.

The Traitor and the Thief

Now that Tales of the Undying Empire is complete, I’m going back to the manuscript for The Traitor and the Thief for another pass. I expect this will take about a month before I’m done and it goes off for editing.

Short Stories

The response to Inheritance last month was amazing. I received a number of comments from readers who told me that it really connected with them, and it has been my most popular story by far.

I’ve been playing around with a few ideas for this month’s short story, but it’s not quite finished yet and I don’t want to promise something that I can’t deliver. So I’ll just say that it’ll be my first post of Spring, and it reflects some of the themes of this time of year.

As mentioned last month, I’m about to start dedicating time to the first of the Kaus Kagunvar short stories, The Broken Temple of Yinak. I expect to have it ready for posting in April.

Origin

Once I complete The Broken Temple of Yinak, and after I finish the next pass through The Traitor and the Thief, I’ll be dedicating a week or two to evaluate Origin and see what needs to be done to get it ready for publishing. However, my primary commitment is to complete the Undying Empire: Rebellion trilogy in a reasonable timeframe. So while I’m going to spend a bit of time on this, if I see that it’s going to take some real effort to get it out, then it’ll bump down the list while I focus on The Revenant and the Reaper.

The Revenant and the Reaper

This is the third book in the Undying Empire: Rebellion trilogy and I’m really looking forward to diving into this one. My plan is to start writing this book in early May, and I’m making some adjustments to my weekly writing schedule to get more time in front of the keyboard. So I’m aiming to get the first draft of the manuscript completed by Hallowe’en at the latest.

That’s it for this month. If you haven’t read any of the Tales of the Undying Empire novels yet, don’t forget to check out the Tales of the Undying Empire Omnibus Edition.

See you next week.

Writing Update – February 2017

This month is a fairly short update, but overall things are moving well and I’m excited by how these projects are going.

The Traitor and the Thief

The manuscript for this book is essentially complete. I’ve got a couple of scenes that I’m going back to rewrite, but that will be done by the end of this coming week.

I will then leave the manuscript to sit for a couple of weeks to clear my mind of it, before I go back and do another pass to see how everything hangs together and smooth out any rough spots.

Then, it’s off to editing.

Short Stories

This month’s short story is one that is very personal to me. I wrote it a few years ago, but I’ve kept it private until now. I’ll reveal more next week when I put it up on the site.

As mentioned in the list of projects last month, I’ve put the Kaus Kagunvar story The Broken Temple of Yinak on hold until I can give it my undivided attention. So, I don’t expect it to be ready as March’s free short story, but if everything holds up well on my schedule, you should see this one in April.

Tales of the Undying Empire

The next project on my list is to get the Tales of the Undying Empire Omnibus out on Kindle. I’ll start tackling the issues with that shortly, and I hope to have it out by this time next month.

Other Projects

Both Origin—the story I wrote for my son—and the third book in the Undying Empire: Rebellion trilogy, The Revenant and the Reaper, are on the list. With the completion of the manuscript for The Traitor and the Thief, things are moving well and I expect to get started on these in the next few months.

I’m really happy with how things are progressing, and I hope to see you back here next week.

Writing Update – January

The Traitor and the Thief

The manuscript for The Traitor and the Thief is almost done! I’ve made some great progress on the book, though I did discover a problem that required me to go back and rework a couple of earlier chapters. However, I expect that I’ll have the draft completed by the end of the month.

I’m very excited to see this one done and off to editing.

Short Stories

I had to unexpectedly change plans last month with my free short story. I ran into a snag with the originally-planned Kaus Kagunvar story, and replaced it with a different story, Unhidden.

I’m going to be holding off on The Broken Temple of Yinak for a bit. I want the first Kaus Kagunvar story to be something special, and I need the time to do it justice. Since I’m so focused on completing The Traitor and the Thief at this point, I don’t think I can commit the necessary brain-space to this story at this time.

So this month’s story is going to be another fairly short one. I don’t have a name yet—I’m still trying to come up with something appropriate—so I’ll just say it’s another story set in the Undying Empire and leave it at that.

Tales of the Undying Empire

My plans for the Tales of the Undying Empire Omnibus have been slightly derailed. I had some difficulty with the files for the Kindle version, and I’m working through those. I’m not going to make another release date commitment at this time. I’ll just announce it here and on Twitter when it’s ready to be released.

One More Project

So, almost two years ago, my son asked me to write a story for him. And the result was a 60-thousand-word story that I tentatively called Origin. It’s a story for kids of 10-12 years of age. I read it to my son, and since then it has been sitting on my hard drive and I’ve done nothing with it.

I’ve come to the decision that I am going to release it, once I have time. Needless to say, getting this one out is not a top priority.

Basically, my plans (in order) are:

  • Complete the manuscript for The Traitor and the Thief.
  • Get the Tales of the Undying Empire Omnibus out on Kindle.
  • Complete the Kaus Kagunvar story, The Broken Temple of Yinak.
  • See what needs to be done to Origin (or whatever I eventually choose to name it) to get it ready for publishing.
  • Get working on The Revenant and the Reaper, the conclusion to the Undying Empire: Rebellion trilogy.

So I wouldn’t expect to see Origin until much later in the year. But if it generates enough interest, I might just be interested in doing more of them.

That’s it for this month. It’s time for me to get back to writing!

Writing Update – November

The Soldier and the Slave

I’m happy with the initial interest in The Soldier and the Slave, and it continues to do well in the Kindle version (less so with the print version).

My current Kindle Select contract is up on January 6th, and I’m considering whether or not I should leave it in the program or release it more widely. As of today, I have more reads through the Kindle Unlimited program than I have sold copies of the book, and my royalties for each copy read is actually higher than what I make on a sale. So, from a financial perspective, it’s to my benefit to keep the book in the Kindle Select program.

However, I do know that having my book out on multiple platforms will increase discoverability, which is really what I’m after at this point. So I have to consider the pros and cons of each approach and decide my course of action based on that. For now, The Soldier and the Slave is in the program at least until early January.

The Traitor and the Thief

I’m continuing to work on this book, and the manuscript is proceeding well. I’m still on track to have the manuscript completed by the end of the calendar year, but this may extend into the first couple of weeks of January depending on how the month of December goes. My life outside of writing is quite busy right now, and I’m not getting as much time to write as I’d like.

I’ll keep everyone in the loop in December’s writing update.

The Revenant and the Reaper

Nothing new to report here. I’m focusing on The Traitor and the Thief right now.

Short Stories

My Hallowe’en story was well-received, and I’m happy it gave a few people the creeps as befitting the season.

This month’s story is one of which I’m particularly proud. It’s an Undying Empire story entitled Snowfall, and gives a glimpse into another aspect of life in the Empire and the creatures running around outside the cities.

This story was originally written some time ago, and I intended it to be connected to the events in The Witch’s Path. But that novel was altered while I was developing it, and so became something different from what I had originally envisioned. So this story has some familiar elements to it, but is its own thing.

Tales of the Undying Empire

The first three novels in the Tales of the Undying Empire series are no longer in the Kindle Select program. I’m working on getting them back up on the other distribution platforms, such as Kobo, iBooks, etc. though this will take a bit of time as I’m focused on getting The Traitor and the Thief completed.

I will announce it on this blog when those three novels are available on platforms other than Amazon (though they will remain for sale on Amazon as well, of course).

The omnibus edition of Tales of the Undying Empire is, unfortunately, delayed. I’m trying to get it out as quickly as possible, but there were some production issues that I have to address to ensure it’s a good product when it’s released.

I’m not going to give another release date here just yet, as I hate to announce a date and then miss it. So I’ll keep you updated on this blog. I’m hoping to address the issues and have it up for sale soon. However, my priority is to work on The Traitor and the Thief when I have a good chunk of writing time, and that means this is being worked on in bits and pieces.

That’s it for this month. Look for Snowfall here next week.