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As of the end of Week 4, I am at 32,189 words. (Target threshold: 32,000.) If you remember, at the end of last week I was about to embark on a Big Action Scene. Turns out 50 bandits was a little on the heavy side, and I settled for 30. How that all turned out, who faced up to the danger, who was shoved to the sidelines, and who got shot, you’ll have to read the book to find out.

The plot is beginning to coalesce, with the cast of characters growing, potential villains set up, potential allies acting mysteriously (could they also be villains?) and making various shocking disclosures. (All I will say is that there are more people sneaking around the palace after lights-out than there were during the day.)

I am now considering a tentative release date of September 15. This presumes, of course that (a) I finish on time; (b) I can commission a proper cover, not only for this book, but a coordinating one for The Choking Rain as well; and (c) editing does not take more time than I anticipate. Plus, of course, I need a title. The Scent of Death is hanging around like, um, a mysterious and sinister perfume, and unless something really cool comes up, that will likely be the winner.

Meanwhile, of course, the Smashwords July sale is still on, and you can get all of my titles at reduced prices (one is actually free). So don’t be shy; I write these things to amuse myself, but you might find you like them too…

#SFWApro

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Yep, I’m still at it. Tonight marks the start of Week 4 of the “Write a Novel in Eight Weeks” experiment. At this point, I am at 23,737 words, a sliver short of the 24,000 target. It turns out that there is a little more to outlining than I anticipated; you need to have the basic facts underlying your plot straight, or you may find yourself in trouble. I discovered that I was really wrong on one basic fact and nearly had to scrap the last third of the story, which would have ruined any chance of bringing it in in less than two months, but the beauty of fiction is that the author in totally in charge, and instead of changing the manuscript, I changed the facts. The story works just as well, and I stay on schedule (more or less).

As tonight’s session starts with a big action scene, I have a good chance of making up the lost ground. Action scenes tend to write themselves.

Speaking of action scenes (he said, congratulating himself on his subtle segue), my entire oeuvre is currently on sale at Smashwords, and The Invisible City is available for free. This is a classic adventure story, with noble heroes, dastardly villains, damsels in distress, damsels getting themselves out of distress, loyalty, treachery, betrayal, friendship, and lots of cliffhangers and hairsbreadth-escapes. (The only thing it’s missing is a dog. The hero should have had a dog. I apologize.) It’s a lot of fun, and if there is a kid in your life you’re looking to turn on to reading, you could do worse.

Now, back to planning that big action scene. Do you think fifty bandits is too many?

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Bottom line: After two (four-day) weeks of 2000 words/day as my goal, I have written 16,147 words. So far, so good! I will not say it’s been easy (hence the four-day work week), because it takes up all of what I would otherwise refer to as “my free time,” but oddly, it’s finding the time that’s difficult; the writing has been surprisingly easy.

Oh, I do it in fits and starts, and (real) Internet research has led to some (unnecessary) Internet “research,” and there are points every evening when I think, “Maybe I’ll cut myself some slack tonight. I have a few extra words banked from last night,” but so far I’ve managed to get past that (except last night. Last night I stopped at 1400. I was wiped.)

I don’t know how I can do this on some projects and not others. It definitely has to do with outlining. The one time I tried something like this on the fly, I wrote 6000 words in two days and burned myself out for a week. But the one time I’ve worked for hire (and thus using an outline someone else imposed on me), I cranked out 2000 words a night without any trouble (which is what inspired me to try it this time).

Obviously, then, it’s not a matter of typing too much (although with this and my day job, I worry about that). It’s more a matter of mental exhaustion. (So, yeah, four days on, three days off.) If I do this again, I will throttle it back to 1500 wds/day. It’s less about the daily word count and more about avoiding those long stretches of writer’s block that come from not knowing where you’re going.

So that’s where I am, and I wouldn’t be doing my duty if I didn’t remind you that this is a sequel to The Choking Rain, available on Smashwords and Amazon.* While you’re there, check out my other books as well, and if you’re one of those sainted people who’s already bought one, please consider giving me a review on Amazon. You have no idea how important those are (to any author).

So in two weeks, will I be at the half-way mark, or will I be a gibbering mass of dangling participles huddling in a corner?

Beats me, I haven’t outlined that far yet.

 

*Current leader in the title race is The Scent of Death. I’m still taking suggestions.

#SFWApro

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For the month of July, I am participating in the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale! All full-price books are 25% off with the coupon code SSW25. This means that volume 2 of the Stolen Future trilogy, The Secret City; the first of the Captain Swashbuckle Depression-era thrillers, The Choking Rain; and my non-fiction primer on how to avoid losing money to your stockbroker, How to Know if Your Stockbroker is Ripping You Off–And What You Can Do About It, are all 25% off for an entire month! Check them all out at my author page, or see the entire Smashwords promotional catalog.

And of course, the first volume of the Stolen Future trilogy, The Invisible City, is also available, at the special introductory price of $0.99.

July is a long month, and you have to fill it somehow, so why not try some new fiction? (A word to the wise: Don’t take your Kindle into the pool…)

 

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I get a lot of pitches for ways to get your self-published book noticed. Paid reviewers, unpaid reviewers, virtual libraries, PR companies, Amazon, Smashwords…everybody is out to help the poor writer get readers. What I can’t figure out is, with so many writers out there now, why do we need help? If all the indie writers simply read all the other indie writers, everybody would get rich (or at least sell respectably).

I do not claim not to be part of the problem: I don’t read my fellow indies, either. The problem is, I have little time to read anyone, and the few authors I like pretty much fill it. Now this, of course, is my problem. And it is most certainly a problem, since writers need to “feed their heads” more than most. I write better when I’ve been reading; I suspect most of us do. I should do a lot more of it.  (Of both, actually.)

So if writers aren’t reading, who is? And is that why indie writers can’t get readers, because nowadays so many people are busy self-publishing that no one has time to read?

We had dinner at a fish restaurant tonight. I am not terribly fond of fish, but I’ll eat some, and there’s always something else available. (After a detailed examination of the menu, and consultation with my wife and the very patient waitress, I chose the shrimp pasta. The waitress was very enthusiastic about the cheeseburger. I am nothing if not transparent.) But in talking of the choices afterward, my wife said, “You have to take some chances.” (To me, shrimp pasta with a spicy red sauce is taking a chance.)

It is not my intention to encourage reading more independent writers; I can hardly do that if I don’t know what I’m recommending. (I could recommend myself, but that would hardly be helpful, let alone objective.) But I would encourage people (myself included) to read more broadly, to branch out, take a chance.

If we can take chances with what we put into our mouths, why not with what we take in with our eyes? After all, a paperback (let alone an e-book) is a lot cheaper than a good fish dinner, and if you quit when you’re half-way finished, no one can see the leftovers on your plate and blame you for wasting food. (“There are illiterate children in China who would love to read that book!”)

A lot of people would choose the cheeseburger book. Others would go for the hazelnut-encrusted halibut novel. It doesn’t matter; they both go well with a glass of wine, and we all have to eat.

#SFWApro

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As both of the regular readers of this blog know, I recently posted a novel of mine, “The Choking Rain,” on wattpad.com, a free site for posting novels and short stories, whether original or fan fiction. According to the site’s own tracking, successful authors can attract thousands of fans to their work, and while there’s no direct monetary return, if you have a blog or other, non-free content to offer, it has the potential of drawing all of those people in.

My own experience, as recounted here, was far more modest. Even after being a Featured story, “The Choking Rain” has attracted hundreds, not thousands. Still, that’s hundreds of people who had never heard of me before, and it’s still accruing nearly a hundred new readers a week, of whom a measurable number appear to be visiting either my website or my Smashwords page. Not bad for a free service.

I attribute the popularity of wattpad.com, and blogs, and such things, to our innate need to make ourselves known, to rise above the crowd, to scream “I’m here!” to an uncaring universe. We all want to believe we’re special and have something to say, right? Wrong. I was a little surprised when an acquaintance who had previously written a piece of Star Wars fanfic (maybe 5000 words, no small feat), said she wasn’t interested when I told her about wattpad. She said her work was too amateurish, too juvenile. I told her, in all honesty, that a lot of what I had seen was more amateurish than what she’d written. (As I have said before, this is not a criticism. Everyone starts somewhere.) But she didn’t care, wasn’t interested, didn’t want to know, so I dropped it.

Now, not everyone wants to be a writer. (In fact, in my book, this is the first test for determining if a person is sane. You don’t have to be insane to be a writer, but you won’t have to wait long.) But if you’ve already got the story written, if once upon a time you cared enough to devote the time to think and write, and maybe even edit a little, and to distribute it to even a few of your friends, then why not take the plunge and put it out in the world? For heaven’s sake, if you’re that ashamed, use a pseudonym–it’s the Internet, after all.

But hey, I’m not on that committee. It’s not my story, not my life. To be honest, there’s stuff I wouldn’t put up there either. Although now that I think about it, maybe I should…

Then again, I’m a writer, so I’m probably not sane anyway.

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