Thursday, December 27, 2012

My writing goals for 2013

2012 was not much of a year for my original writing. While I did complete the NaWriNoMo event, in November, and I’m still working on that novel (77,500 words on the first draft as of this minute)

A couple of writing podcasts say you should set goals, and that’s what this post is about — setting goals and posting them somewhere in the hope that doing it publicly will generate some internal momentum when it comes to writing.

So, my goals for 2013 in my original writing program:

1) Finish all three novels I have half-written. (Minimum of a First Draft for each one)
2) Develop the world and backgrounds on two of the other series which I have ideas for.
3) Continue learning from self-publishing websites and podcasts.
4) Try outlining and structuring a fourth novel (I’m a blank-page type of writer, but I do have an one-off novel that I can work out the novel’s structure before I actually write word one.
5) Write four to six blog posts a month on the subject of being a writer from a newcomer’s perspective.

So, those are my writing goals for 2013. Too much or too little?


(Addition: I have set my Word goal for 2013 to 450,000 words. So, here we go!)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Toast!

To all those present, I give you a Toast!

May the coming year be full of joy and light,
May friendships and romance survive more then a night.
May you find strength, peace and health this coming year,
May no darkness, hate and sorrow fill your soul with tears.
May life grant you everything it can,
May you find the grace to help your fellow man.
With this toast I do say,
May this year be nothing but brighter days!  



Thursday, November 8, 2012

NaWriNoMo Report — Week #1

Like a lot of would-be writers, I am participating in the NaWriNoMo event this month.

For those of you who don’t know what NoWriNoMo is, it stands for National Write a Novel Month. The idea is simple: you have thirty days to write 50,000 word novel. That’s it. Your novel may be longer, may be a pile of crap, or an editor’s worse nightmare. But the idea is to do the most important thing: write the story. The story can be refined, grammar-checked, plot holes filled in, characters chaged and edited to death at a later time. NaWriNoMo is all about getting the raw story down in a form other than having it stuck in your own mind. It’s starting with an empty sheet of blank paper (or an new file and filling it with words)

November is the designated month for this literary marathon. To stay on pace, you have to write an average of 1,667 words a day. That means sitting your butt in a chair and punching out that many words. a day. It’s a challenge, one designed to focus your efforts into pushing yourself as a writer instead of writing a few words here, a few words there.

Now this isn’t a real competition; no one’s going to judge your work or show up to watch you work. The main competition is with yourself, with the sloth in you, or the person who says, "I would like to, but I’m too busy!" It isn’t who can finish their novel first, nor is there a limit to what you can write about. The novel doesn’t even have to make sense or be complete. This is not sitting there and taking five minutes to decide with word to use; it’s playing by the seat of your pants, hitting the keys and stringing words together to form sentences, paragraphs and chapters. It’s rolling out the story as fast as your fingers can move. It’s mining for the story ore – the refinement comes later, after the story have been removed from the mine of your mind.

This is my second attempt at this: Last year, I started with Merlin’s Trial, the second novel in my Merlin Cronicles series. (The first novel is mostly written, and being worked on to refine it.) I saw the NaWriNoMo as a chance to get a large chunk of the story onto paper (or in today’s world, into a computer file). So I sat down November 1, 2011 and started writing.

For three weeks, I pushed myself to stay on track, and I was winning the battle. But late in the month, a chance to write a short story that would actually earn me some money cam up with a short turn-around time and I was force to chose between the two projects. In the end, I chose the paying gig, and ended up falling short on Merlin’s Trial by less than 8,000 words.

8,000 words. The length of the short story I chose to write. So, in a way, I did write 50,000 words that month, just not in the same project. But I did learn something about myself. I learned that given sufficient motivation, I can write a lot in a short time.

So, now I’m back for another with Merlin’s Courtship, third book in the some series. This time around, I decided instead of trying to stay on average, I would write as much as possible every day. Front-load the novel, so to speak. That way, if something comes up like last year, I would be in a position to stay on track without needing to devote as much time to the project. I started a spread sheet, tracking my total word count, my average daily written word count, my actual word count per day, and how many words I had left. As I write this blog entry on November 8th, I have the following stats:

Words written: 16,794 (33.6%)
Words left to reach 50,000: 33,206
Average words per day: 2,399 words (143% of average)

So, after one week, I’m a third of the way to my goal and I have yet to do any writing in this project today. A good start, but now is not the time to coast. Now is the time to double down and see if I can duplicate the totals above for this time next week. Which means I’m shooting for a minimum of 33,588 words. A loft goal, and one to shoot for.

To give you an idea if how much writing you have to do per day, this blog post, including title, is 846 words long, 50.7% of the NaWriNoMo average per day, about a page and a half on my word processor program and I threw this post together in less than an hour. So, if you can write about three pages a day, then you can write 1,667 words a day. As for me, I’m trying to stay in the NaWriNoMo fast lane, and will update eveyone next week on my progress.

Good Luck!


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Other Fantasy Series

As Promised in yesterday's note. . . .

While I’m working on my Death Throne novel, I’ve been working on and off on another project of mine for years, a Urban Fantasy series (Yes, series -- I have two half written novels and a completed short story so far, so yes a series). It’s about a normal guy who suddenly finds himself in the position of taking the family business — Merlin’s Heir. Now, a word from the main character:
My name is Roger Merlin, and I am the fortieth person to assume the mantle of Merlin’s Heir. Yes, that Merlin. I didn’t want the job — hell, I didn’t even apply for it. But it’s mine, and like it or not, I have to do it.

Why? Because someone needs to help defend humanity against those things that go bump in the night. and there’s plenty of them. Demons, evil spirits, werewolves (Fur, fangs, and really bad breath), vampires (Non-sparkly and vicious to boot) and nearly anything you can think of. I have my teacher, my snarky familiar and the best intelligence network on the planet to help me and Allies of Light (Pretentious title I know, but most of the other good ones are copyrighted) to call upon and be called on to help.

So, assuming I can get this all written down and translated into readable English, I will see about getting them published. In the meanwhile, if there’s a monster under the bed, don’t worry – sooner or later, I’ll be in the area.
        Roger Merlin

That’s the series in a nutshell. I'm 90,000+ words into the first novel and I attempted to write the second one during the NaNo WriMo event (I failed, but did get 42,000+ words of the first draft down.) I also have a short story done that I may extend into a novella sometime down the road. Still working out the details, as I bounced through the series I have planned. Now back to writing!


Monday, February 27, 2012

Still Slogging

I manage to double post a blog entry, and I have a lot on my plate, but I will have something new tomorrow, promise!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Background: The Kingdom

The Kingdom is surrounded on all four sides by natural barriers – mountains to the east, west and south, while a large body of water to the north. These barriers, combined with the Kingdom’s well-trained and armed Army and Navy have kept both the Empire and Dominion from taking the county. It is a prosperous country, with a strong merchant fleet and plenty of natural resources. There isn’t major blights of poverty-stricken people, no rebellions, no major strifes. In short, a nice place to live.

As I envision it at the start of the story, The Kingdom is a bit of a misnomer, as there hasn’t been a ruler for some sixty years. We have a missing ruling family. Now, why hasn’t anyone else taken the throne?

The answer is in the title of the (Hopefully) series: The Death Throne. For the past sixty years, anyone who has tried to take the Kingdom’s throne for themselves hasn’t lasted a month. Most have died, either from accident or assassination and a couple have gone mad and fled the country. After a while, the idea of taking the throne is consider suicide.

All it takes for someone to Claim Kingdom’s Throne is to sit in the King’s Throne, a massive chair in the Throne room on the Citadel’s capital city. It is said that any person who claims the throne who is not of the ruling family will not last a lunar month.

So, who’s running the country? A council handles the overall running of the country, while several nobles handle their own lands. It’s a lash up, but it’s working.

But while neither the Empire nor the Dominion have been able to take Kingdom with force of arms, they’ve been trying to subvert the Kingdom with spies, assassins, and bribery. Things are beginning to come to a head. Both the Empire and Dominion are gearing up for war and the Kingdom is looking to be the battlefield.

More later!


Monday, February 6, 2012

Empires of the Mind.

(Note: if future posts seem to be less frequent, I’m working on something else that has a deadline and needs most of my attention right now. I will try and put up at least one post a week on this blog. Now back to your [ir]regular post.)

I’ve decided to start with the basic map of this new world, at least the part I want my story based in. As someone recently reminded me, I should stick with the one story, and don’t worry about any others in the series. Fair enough, but I want to start with a world that I can tell stories in. Maybe not in the detail from ther start, but I would like to have something more in the wings, assuming I actually get this thing off the ground. For now, I will stick with that part of the world where the action happens.

I envision three countries: One, which I will call the Kingdom for now, are the "good guys," the home of the main characters. The other two, which I will call Empire and Dominion, are larger than Kingdom and are the "bad guys". Yes, it simplistic, but I’m just getting the basics down first, there will be plenty of time to layer in the shades of gray.

As I envision it, The Empire and Dominion have been at war for a long while, but are at a stalemate. The Kingdom is wedged between them, sharing common borders with both sides, but staying out of the war. Combined, the Dominion and Empire holds about seventy-five percent of the land, while the other twenty-five percent belongs to Kingdom.

That raises the question; Why hasn’t the Kingdom been swallowed up by either of the larger countries?

The Dominion and Empire are both aggressive expansionist states, with a hunger for land and people to rule over. Just being neutral is not going to cut it; the land is either part of the Dominion/Kingdom, or about to be. There would be three ways to keep both larger states out — a strong military, technology, and physical (or mystical) barriers.

The strongest of the three is the physical barriers. Mountains, seas, swamps, dense jungles, sheer cliffs, gorges, massive walls, or a combination of several of these. Anything that keeps large groups of soldiers out. The mystical barrier may have some possibilities, but I need to work out the magic first before I can make that decision.

The Kingdom’s military, not as large as either Dominion or Empire’s forces, but well trained and equipped, excel at defensive battles. Part of the army would man fortresses along the border in strategic locations along the border, with a mobile part able to move to where they’re needed. Maybe a small but potent section of battle wizards?

Technology. . . .This is something I’m going to have to look at. Not being well-verse in the type of era I plan to set this story in, I need to do some research, to get an idea.

For now, I think physical barriers is the best and simplest reason for Kingdom’s independence. But I don’t want a landlocked Switzerland-like country. I want Kingdom to have a seaport, as part of the economy and for future story ideas. So, something like this:

                        ^^    Kingdom      ^^
                       ^^                  ^^
      Empire           ^^                  ^^      Dominion 
                      ^^                    ^^
                      ^^                    ^^
                       ^^                    ^^
                        ^^                  ^^ 
                         ^^                ^^
                          ^^               ^^
                           ^^ ^^^^^ ^^ ^^^ ^^
                      (Coastline somewhere down here)

Now that I have the basic shape of my land, I need to think through the different countries, their cultures, mindset, general history and military.
Back to work!


Monday, January 30, 2012

The Basics

All novels start with a premise, a "What if?" In this case, my premise is "A young man becomes a ruler of a country in peril from within and without and must use his skills to not only hang onto his own life, but his country."

Here’s what I do know: This novel is the first of several under the umbrella of what I am currently calling the Death Throne Saga (Like everything else in this project, that is subject to change) and is tentatively called The Thief King. I don’t know how many books, or what occurs in them at this point in time.
Now, what genre of novel?
I’ve decided its going to be a fantasy novel. Not high fantasy, per say, more like mid-level fantasy.
Now, a few thoughts:

  • Magic: While there is magic, but it isn’t going to be the central theme of the novel. But I will have to figure out how magic does work in this world, so even if there aren’t a lot of magic spells being thrown around, when they are, they are consistent every time. Maybe there’s one form of magic. We’ll see.
  • Fantasy creatures and races: There will be fantasy creatures, like trolls and other things like that, but at this time, there won’t be dwarves, elves, orcs, or other Tolkin-inspired races in this novel. For one thing, they are common, fallback races that need little development but frankly are overused by fantasy authors. As of right now, I see three human-based countries central to this novel’s conflicts. That doesn’t mean this world doesn’t have any fantasy races, but I want the basics of this world built and solid before I start adding new races to it.
  • Technology: The Middle Ages-based fantasy era have been done so many times, I decided to raise the technology level to 17th -18th Century levels. It means researching the that time period and seeing what was the norm for that era and tweaking it a bit. For example, I have an idea for a flintlock that can shoot more than once before it needs to be reloaded. That means taking a look at how a flintlock is made to see if my idea could work.
I can’t limit myself to one period in time or area when it comes to technology. If I find a good idea from 16th century Asia, I will use it somehow.

But there are many questions I need to find the answers for, as part of the creative process:

  • What sort of world is it, climate-wise and location-wise?
  • What religions are they and how much impact do they have on the characters?
  • What form of government are there, and how strong are the rulers?
  • What are these countries histories, and what effect do they have on the people, places and events from the book?
  • What military does each country have and how large and useful is it?
  • What sort of culture do these countries have, and how much of an effect does it have on some of the questions above?

As you can see, it isn’t going to be easy to come up with this, but it’s hopefully going to pay off in the end.

More later!


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Purpose of this blog

My name is Craig Reed and I am a writer.

Well, I like to think of myself as a writer. Whether or not anyone else thinks I am is up in the air.

I have been an avid reader for about the time I was four, more years ago then I care to remember. Over the years I wrote fanfiction, mostly in anime and Battletech. But I’ve finally decided to take the big plunge and write stories set in my own universe. I have had some success writing stories for the Battlecorps site (Sixteen E-published stories as of this blog), but until things get straightened out with the Battletech novels, there’s no way I’m even going to get a shot at writing one.

I have a couple of partially completed urban fantasy novels done, one I wrote for the NoWriNoMo event in November (I managed 42,000 words before a looming deadline with a Battlecorps story forced me to chose, and I chose the short story). But this isn’t one of those. I expect I will take what I learn from this novel and apply it to both of them to get them back on track.

So, it’s time to branch out and see if I can write that novel, for real. That’s the purpose of this blog, to chronicle my efforts, from start to (hopefully) the end of of the project. I expect that it will be part progress journal, part bitch and moan session, part kick in the ass, and part cry for help....

I have never sat down and planned out a novel before. I tend to write my fanfiction "off-the-cuff", with frequent consultations of source material. But there is no "source material" for me to support me, but what comes from my brain. To do that, I have to plan this out before I can put one word down of the story.
I expect this to be a journey. Maybe not a quick one, but a lot of what I do for this first novel is going to be trial and error. If you read this, maybe you can learn for my mistakes, or offer help when I hit my head against a wall.

Willing to come along?