Monday, 29 January 2018

Writing Log 2018-01-26

Hardcover copies of Bad Dog have arrived, taking my print ambitions to the next level. More importantly, I've now sent copies out to my Beta readers.

This week I've been working on my next short story in The World of Drei series. The first, Mission One, which evolved into  novelette, when I reached 9,706 words, has come back from my first reader. She likes it. So, I've sent it to one of my Beta readers for his comments.

For those who don't know, the definition of a short story is less than 7,500 words. A novelette is more than 7,500 but less than 17,500 words. A novella is more than 17,500 and less than 40,000.

An aside on my creative process...

Originally, when I first thought of this project I called it Territory. My idea was to do a homage to Keith Laumer's Bolo stories. But with a modern take, to address developments in our understanding of what artificial intelligence is.

Then I got stuck. Like one does.

I renamed Territory, and called it Terror Tree. But I was still stuck with what to do with the project.

As a novel I was struggling how to tell a story totally from the perspective of an evolving artificial intelligence. I was setting myself up to do the definitive work. That's a burden no author needs to carry, because it just setting yourself up to be in critical mode, rather than allowing the creative part of one's mind work.

Heck, over the last couple of years I've also been stuck because my day job was a tad demanding of me. It left me emotionally drained. Which is not a good place to write from either.

So to free myself, I chose to write a short story in The World of Drei series. After all, Terror Tree is a short story. One editor very nicely rejected it on account of it only being 1,419 words, calling it flash-fiction, which wasn't what they wanted.

At a stretch Terror Tree could even be considered poetry, of sorts. Well, it has a bit of poetry within the story. That counts, right?

Anyway, I've been writing the next story, Regroup, which is currently running at 8,506 words. So yes, still not a short story. What can I say? It's all very Russian; vodka and depression, with giant cybertanks, which is fun to write.

And fun is the key to being creative.

So this weeks summary. I wrote 7,191 new words, averaging 359 words per hour. I managed to spend 20 hours actually writing, rather than doing other stuff. Part of my publishing plans is to keep track of my writing time, drilling down into how I spend my day, to try and up my word count. Identifying what I'm doing with my time.

What's happening is that I'm wasting time by becoming distracted. Though some of the wasted time is actually research.

For example, I've been immersing myself in Russian culture; the songs, myths, and orthodox Russian church practices. Most of this won't be in the stories, it just provides me hooks and character perks to generate a setting that feels Russian. So its not all vodka and depression.

But the important bit is, that I've been enjoying my writing.

Projects in Progress
The World of Drei – Full on Russian stoicism in the face of adversity
Strike Dog – Fact checking, moving forward, but still a work in progress
Ghost Dog – On hold, as Strike Dog is still a work in progress
The Bureau – Still on hold
Two Moons – Sidequel story, still noodling
Dead Dogs – First in a new trilogy, still noodling

Monday, 22 January 2018

Writing Log 2018-01-19

Well, look what we have here.

Yep, bona fide paperback copies of Bad Dog. Colour me happy.

But that was a bit of a distraction on the day. So, this weeks work wise I managed 17.25 hours writing, wrote 5141 number of words, and averaged 298 words per hour.  The hourly word rate slightly down on last week, but not by much, and the total of number of new words written up by nearly 1300 words.

I'll take that as a win, even if I failed to reach my goal I still produced new words.

My World of Drei short story came back from my Alpha reader who told me it wasn't a short story, but rather it need to be longer. This story I'm focusing on openings, cliffhangers, and characters, as part of developing my craft. She liked it, but wanted more, because what I written didn't quite deliver what it promised.

Oh boy!

So, I expanded the short story from circa 5000 words so that now runs at a tad over 9600 words. From this I have an idea for a sequel short story, which again may end up longer than 7500 words.

Also, I have revised the cover and contents of Terror Tree, and enrolled it in Amazon's Kindle Direct program, which means it's now available as part of the Kindle Unlimited subscription service. If anyone who has the first version wants the update, contact me through the site and we can sort something out.

As always, thank you for reading.

Projects in Progress
Strike Dog – Fact checking still a work in progress
Ghost Dog – Editing continues, mostly because I didn't do any
World of Drei – See above
The Bureau – Still on hold
Two Moons – Sidequel story, still noodling
Dead Dogs – First in a new trilogy, still noodling

Monday, 15 January 2018

Writing Log 2018-01-12

The cover for Strike Dog is in, and as you can see it is epic in its awesomeness. The book is currently being factually proofed by a Marine and a Corpsman, and all I can say is thank you.

Work wise, I spent 13 hours writing out of 51 hours.

A lot of time went on sorting out the print editions for Bad Dog. Oh boy, was that Sisyphean task. So while I may think I'm a bit of a slacker without a work ethic, the evidence seems to contradict that belief. With the caveat that I have identified some bad habits which distract me from getting down to actually writing words.

Anyway, by the end of last week I had written 3965 new words, averaging 305 words per hour. My targets are 1500 new words each day, to produce 7500 new words per week.

Zen Moment
I failed to meet this goal, but success can only be achieved through failure, because success comes from trying to attain goals.
I completed a short story, set in The World of Drei universe. I'm running with the idea of writing this series as a serialization, and when I have enough words put a book out.

The World of Drei story also marks a change in my approach to how I write.

When I look back, I did eight major revisions of my first novel. My second went through six, and my third is on its fifth.

I need to find a better way to write a draft. This is part driven by the need to make the process easier, because at times over the last five years, writing has not been exactly what I call fun. Writing and re-writing, revising and rewriting again is soul sucking drudgery. And the key to being good at anything is to have fun while doing it.

And while I can accept that all this work was required to learn how to write a novel, I need to move forward.

So, that's it for another week, see you all on the bounce. 

Projects in Progress
Strike Dog – See comments above
Ghost Dog – Editing continues
World of Drei – Short story with my Alpha reader, and second story started
The Bureau – Got pushed down the list by World of Drei
Two Moons – A sidequel story planning and research in progress
Dead Dogs – First in a new trilogy still in research

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Bad Dog Combat Armour Size

This amateur CGI animation from YouTube gives you an idea of the size of the combat armour suits I imagined for my Bad Dog novel. The Japanese work that inspired the above was an anime show I have mentioned several times over the years called, Armored Troopers VOTOMS. Being a Japanese show VOTOMS stands for:
Vertical One-man Tank for Offense & ManeuverS
And yes, they must have had to work hard to make the acronym fit the name.

Arguably it doesn't make much sense to build walking tanks, because they stand taller than tracked tanks and small wheeled armoured cars that already provide infantry with armoured support.  But in the world of Bad Dog warfare has changed from the introduction of killer robots, which dominate the battlefield.

However, the infantry will still have to go in to secure an area, which means infantry are put in power armour so that they can survive against the machines.

And then there is the problem of urban areas, where tanks and other conventional vehicles are at a disadvantage also remains.

I imagined a world where the infantry started riding the robots that accompanied them into battle and saw an opportunity to make something that a person rode in that walked to accompany power armoured infantry.  I call this the combat armour suit.  Something one drives rather than wears, fulfilling a very similar function, but providing a platform that can carry greater fire-power, and be more manoeuvrable than a conventional tank or armoured car.

However, combat armour suits raise questions around doctrine, which is all about defining how the stuff the military has, is used; and of course, new equipment drive changes.

For more about doctrine go to my other blog, here.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Writing Log 2018-01-05

Another awesome sketch by Elartwyne Estole for Strike Dog

At the end of week one I've managed to write 727 words.

This was down to me not being able to protect my writing time. I'm trying to be mindful of the WIBBOW: Would I Be Better Off Writing?

My attempt at getting Bad Dog into print was also a complete and utter shambles. To say, I made every newbie mistake I could, is to say that this was a rich learning outcome. Printed On Demand may look easy, but there's an awful lot that can go wrong.

The good news is that everything is now sorted or in the process of being sorted, and I won't be making those mistakes again.

I hope.

I've also spent a big chunk of my week reviewing the copy edits for Strike Dog, and commissioning the art for the cover. So it's all coming together.

As part of my schedule self discipline I logged my time last week. Over the four days I worked 44 hours, which is not a complaint, it's just the time it took me to do all the tasks I set myself; and when I say do all the tasks, I mean do some of them–others still remain to be done.

Mostly I enjoyed myself.


There were a lost of frustrating things that were a result of me not knowing what I was doing. And, I didn't sleep all that well, due to anxiety over what I had to do and, had I done it right? Still, Strike Dog cover commission done, and as you can see, it's going to be another awesome cover. So, I'm now laying out the text in Vellum and everything is good, so far.

But, I need to write more new words.

New stories don't write themselves, and I have some great stories I want to tell.

Projects in Progress
Strike Dog – Being readied for publication
Ghost Dog – Third book of the Gate Walker Trilogy, out later this year
The Bureau – Lovecraftian Urban Fantasy novel
New short story, sequel to Terror Tree, set in the World of Drei universe
Two Moons – A sidequel story about Mr Anderson from Bad Dog
Dead Dogs – First in a new trilogy

Friday, 5 January 2018

Summary of the Books I Read in 2017

So, now it's the time to reflect a bit on what I've read last year. I was determined to reduce the number of books on my to be read pile, which I counted at the beginning of the year revealing I had 30 unread novels. I've managed to read 29 of them this year.
Eric Frank Russell The Great Explosion (read over on Galactic Journey)
Arthur C. Clarke Childhood's End
Glen Cook The Dragon Never Sleeps
Jim Butcher Dead Beat
Larry Correia Hard Magic
Larry Correia Spellbound
Larry Correia Warbound
Larry Correia Monster Hunter Siege
Larry Correia Monster Hunter Alpha
Larry Correia & Mike Kupari Swords of the Exodus
William C. Deitz Andromeda's Fall
William C. Deitz Andromeda's Choice
William C. Deitz Andromeda's War 
David Hambling The Elder Ice (reviewed by my friend Roger here)
Sarah A. Hoyt A Few Good Men
Mike Kupari Her Brother's Keeper (also reviewed here by my friend Roger)
Andre Norton Star Rangers
Andre Norton Fore Runner
Andre Norton Fore Runner: The Second Venture 
Andre Norton Stargate
Christopher Rowley Starhammer
Christopher Rowley The Vang: The Military Form 
Christopher Rowley The Vang: The Battlemaster 
Tanya Huff A Piece Divided
Michelle Sagara Grave: Book 3 of The Queen of the Dead
Clifford D Simak Cosmic Engineers
A. E. van Vogt The Battle of Forever 
Michael Z. Williamson A Long Time Until Now 
Michael Z. Williamson When Diplomacy Fails
Disclaimer: Some of the links go to same page, and didn't get around to reviewing all the books I read this year.

After reading 29 books, I've just counted my remaining to be read pile, which now has 31 books. This makes me laugh. Besides the novels I read a number of non-fiction books too.
J. M. Bickham Elements of Fiction Writing - Scene & Structure
J. M. Bickham The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes
J. M. Bickham Setting
Kristine Katherine Rusch The Freelancer’s Survival Guide
Robert Shufflebotham  InDesign in easy steps
Dean Wesley Smith Writing into the Dark: How to Write a Novel without an Outline
Dwight V. Swain Creating Characters: How to Build Story People
NB: And the astute readers will have noted that I've gone through and revised all the tags on this blog. For two reasons. First this blog is now going to be more focused on what I've written, and secondly, it was all getting rather out of hand and overly long.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Happy New Year: Reflecting Back on 2017

A planet with two moons is the setting for my next novel, Strike Dog.

Before I start, let me wish everyone the best for the new year ahead.

At this time I find myself reflecting on work, life, the universe, and everything. I can report that my NHS job has come to an end, which as one may imagine has caused a certain amount of emotional turmoil. After all, jobs are often linked to one's feeling of self worth.

So, I'm taking a long hard look at what I've actually written.

My productivity has not been helped by having the day job, but the worse thing is that I haven't focused on writing new words. Because only by writing new words does one improve. I could make a reasonable argument that all the re-writing I've done, to get my first three novels knocked into shape, was practice.

But, if this is true, then the time has come to move on with what I've learnt.

Totting everything up this is what I managed, while holding down what was effectively a full time job, this year.

Galactic Journey, twelve articles, which came to 11,839 words.
Paint it Pink blog, 56 pieces that came to 11,260 words.
This writing blog, 43 articles, which came to 12,598 words.
Two short reviews for Miniature Wargames magazine, 438 words.
Total: 36,310 words.
Looking Back:
2013; ARP 18,519; PiP 9,465; Five reviews 12,735; Total: 40,719 words.
2014; ARP 23,201; PiP 12,259; Four articles 11,166; Total: 46,626 words.
2015; ARP 30,638; PiP 14,113; Total: 44,751 words.
2016; ARP 18,155; PiP 12,682; GJ 8,230; Total: 39,067 words.
Over the last two years I have written less but, what I choose take away from all this noodling is that I write a bunch of non-fiction regardless of the demands on my life. It's not a large number of words, but I do consistently write.

However, while content will remain free to read, I've added a donate to support this blog PayPal button to the sidebar. I need income streams if I'm to continue writing, and the odd dollar here & there will help.

Aggregated that includes new scenes, and two short stories, 21,537 words.

Grand total:

57,407 words.
Which is just not enough to sustain any forward momentum to develop a writing career.

Looking at the editing come re-writing this year, then I know I did a draft of Strike Dog, which came to 101,638 words that has now come back from copy-editing. I've also did  a draft of Ghost Dog, which came to 96,518 words, and I'm currently re-writing it because, well just because I want it to be as good as I can make it, and my Beta reader pointed out some problems I agreed with.

So, bottom line here is, I averaged 1,103 new words per week, and re-wrote 198,156 words during the course of the year. This means 3,810 words each week that could have gone towards new novels, didn't. Add together that would've made 219,693 words, which is at least two novels. That's two novels worth of writing I will not get back.

New Year resolutions are generally pointless.

But, my first novel, Bad Dog, is out as an eBook, and by the end of the month I hope to have a paperback and hardcover versions for sale. Furthermore, the sequel, Strike Dog, is nearly ready to be published, all I've got to do is commission a cover, typeset it, and then I'll be good to go. And before the end of the year I will bring Ghost Dog to market

So my goal in 2018 is to have published my three novels, and I will write three new novels.

This year is new words. It just is.

NB: Links to my Galactic Journey pieces.
Vegetating at the Movies (Day of the Triffids)
A Galaxy of Choices (British TV: The Andromeda Breakthrough)
Out of this World (the British Summer SF hit!)
Yes, please! (The first James Bond movie, Dr. No)
Great Balls of Fire!  (Gerry Anderson’s new series, Fireball XL5)
That Was the Month that Was (Christmas Cheer from a UK fan


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