Slogging the Mire: 10/27/17

Slogging the Mire: 10/27/17

It’s been a very busy month!

Last post I was just about to take off for Newfoundland to help my in-laws pack and move to Nova Scotia.

It was a pretty damn small plane.

It was a pretty damn small plane.

I spent a bit over a week packing and accumulated so many bruises that I looked like a dalmatian. In the end I packed and loaded over 15,000 pounds of stuff. Two trucks and two trailers. The drive back took three days. A lot of it was pretty. Really nice fall colors and gorgeous weather the entire drive.

I'd have taken more pictures but I was busy actually driving the truck.

I’d have taken more pictures but I was busy actually driving the truck.

We stayed at this place.

Their marketing, while not very appealing, is amazingly accurate.

Their marketing, while not very appealing, is amazingly accurate.

I also learned that Canadians are not afraid of putting big ol’ wangs on their giant cartoon moose statues.

A proud Canadian moose on full display.

A proud Canadian moose on full display.

I got to ride on a big ol’ ferry for the second night. We slept while it made the crossing.

The ferry was cramped, full of moose hunters, but otherwise fun.

The ferry was cramped, full of moose hunters, but otherwise fun.

After that there was another day of driving, some unloading, and a whole bunch of days where I rested up and healed my very, very sore muscles.

The whole endeavor knocked about a two week hole in my writing schedule. On top of this, upon returning I re-read all of the stuff I’d “rush written” before I left and decided that it wasn’t up to snuff. I ended up deleting about a dozen pages. The two things combined have caused that giant rolling ball that’s constantly chasing me for my Patreon content to get pretty close. I’ve not missed a deadline yet and I don’t plan to.

The story I’m working on, ‘The Mudfisher’s Catch’, is a fantasy story in an entirely unique world setting written from the perspectives of four different characters. It’s tricky, a hell of a lot of fun, and the damn thing wants to be a lot bigger than I need it to be. To meet my Patron commitment I’ve got to write one large story a month. I defined that as 7-15 pages when I created that parameter. That’s the goal. This one looks like it’s going to clock in over 40 pages. I don’t think anyone will complain if they get longer stories though. I’ve got a day or two to wrap it up, edit it, and stretch or trim it as needed before it drops at the end of the month. I like it a lot, but it’s been a push considering the size of the story and the other things that ate a bunch of my time.

I’ve lost my lead, but I don’t mind. I’m still a tiny bit ahead and after two months of this, I can feel the habit building. I caught the lead before, I can get it again. Besides, we’re staring down the barrel of winter here soon. I’ll be trapped inside with nothing to do but write before long. That’ll be great for my production!

With everything going on I haven’t had a lot of time to get into the Halloween spirit. I’ve been itching to do a costume for myself and unleash a bit of terror on this town, but I don’t think I’ll have time to put anything together in time. Gale wants to be a Pumpkin Spider for her costume, so I’ll be building her extra arms and legs over the weekend. And Jess, who’s coming to visit, is going as Keith from Voltron. I promised her I’d make her weapon for her. Looks like this year my costume will be “guy surrounded by super happy kids in costumes”. I’m cool with that. There certainly are worse things to go as. And, who knows, maybe I’ll manage to throw on my clown nose, put on the paint, and ride the success of IT.

Have a great Halloween folks! Catch you on the other side.

Slogging the Mire: 9/26/17

Slogging the Mire: 9/26/17

Lots and lots going on in my world as Fall rolls into town. I’ve been trying to pack in as much outdoor fun as possible while the weather is beautiful. In the past month I’ve been hiking a bunch of times (including a trip to gorgeous Kejimjujik park), gone clamming (yum!), fishing for mackerel (tossed those buggers back, no idea how to cook ’em), and spent a bunch of time relaxing in the shade by my campfire. All in all, it’s been a pretty good summer.

It’s also been a fun first month for my new Patreon endeavor. I got ten Patrons so far and one mysterious donor pledged 8 times my top tier! Thanks whoever you are! I’m now making $110 bucks a month as an author. To put that in context, selling a short story averages between $20 and $100 bucks and typically takes months and months to find the right publisher, if ever. There are some pro markets out there that will pay $500-1000 a story, but they’re really, really difficult to get into. Most of their slots are usually taken by well established authors with lots of rep and books. So, getting what I do now, is the same as if I sold a high end story once a month! That’s great! It frees me up for more time writing rather than submitting all the time and playing ping pong with a dozen different publishers! I’ve been writing like crazy and have, in the last four weeks, finished seven stories. Seven! It’s good, but I’m going to have to keep up the pace indefinitely. I’ll manage. I’m not going to fall behind on my Patron rewards. I did discover that mail from Nova Scotia takes about twice as long as I’d expected. Everybody who signed up to get my stories in the mail got them later than I wanted. Sorry folks. Although, thankfully, since it was the first month they probably never even realized they were late. Lucky for me! Next month is written already and will be mailed sooner (especially my one Patron in Hawaii! I promise it’ll arrive, but no guarantees on time for that one!)

I also started playing with some cool graphics manipulations for some of my writing. I enjoyed the process of making my promotional video. Because the process wasn’t terribly time consuming, I’ve decided to try and do tiny animatics for my stories. Jill’s art deserves it. The first one didn’t turn out like I’d planned, but it’s pretty good. I’ll keep trying until I’m able to produce better results with less effort. As it stands, I dig it. Check it out. Facebook hid it from a lot of people and keeps spamming me with promises of fame and fortune if I give them 10 bucks to promote it. Riiight.

The real big news for this month is that I’m taking a trip to Newfoundland to help pack up and move my in-laws to their new house. I’ll be spending a few weeks loading a giant truck, driving it across the island, and then taking the ferry to Nova Scotia. Lots of work. I’ll miss Jill and the kiddo while I’m gone, but once they’re moved it’ll be nice having more family close by. This is going to be the real test of my keeping up with my full time writing. I’ve finished October’s stories, but have a bit to go for November’s releases. This trip will chomp a great big bite out of my time.

On top of this, my awesome eldest daughter is coming up to spend Halloween week with me!  The visit is going to be great and everyone’s excited for it, but I don’t want to squander any of her visit time and would like an entirely free schedule. This means even less time for writing December’s stuff! Ahh well. This is where I find out if I’m a pro or not, right? All this over-scheduling will force me to organize and work quickly and decisively. I’m not worried. I’m on it.

That’s it for now mostly. I gotta go pack. Gotta leave to catch that plane at near 5:30am tomorrow. Blech. My nocturnal side does not enjoy that. I hope everyone out there is having a good end of summertime too. Although, from the sound of it, a lot of places have been roasting and have another month before things cool off. Get it in while you can folks! Before you know it we’ll be sippin’ cider and covered in Halloween cobwebs!

 

Slogging the Mire: 9/3/17

Slogging the Mire: 9/3/17

For this week’s update I’m going to fill you in on a bit of how I organize my writing time.

For me, progress in writing can be broken down with math. Authors count progress in words. Certain quantities of words add up to stories of various sizes. Knowing how many words you can produce, on average, in an hour, will tell you how much you can create with a certain amount of time. For example: a flash fiction story is typically considered to be fewer than 1,500 words and the average flash story is around 1,000. So, if you know you write at 300 words an hour, you know you can finish a flash fiction story in less than four hours. If it’s a 5,000 word short story you’re shooting for, that’ll take about 16 hours at that rate. This is draft time, not including editing, daydream prep, etc… But it’ll give you a good general idea of how long you need to sit your butt in a chair and plunk out words of prose, for each story.

Obviously, the ability to produce more words, faster, is good. It’s also much better if the quality is higher and requires less editing time on the back end. 2,000 words an hour that requires 40% of them to be edited actually takes more time to produce than 1,000 words that are tighter and only need about 10% edited. The goal, ultimately, is to be good enough at writing to have a high, clean, word count per hour. With practice, clean first drafts are certainly possible. Certainly with shorter fiction (typically, editing gets more complex in proportion to the length of the story).

By knowing my word count per hour average, and my amount of time to devote to writing, I can come up with a good idea of how many words I can write in a given period.

In ideal conditions, I can write 2,000 words an hour. In crappy conditions, I write about 400. I usually require an hour to an hour and a half to “get in the zone”. My writing is much quicker as I stay focused. I’m more productive by a large margin with a five hour block of time than I am with several two hour blocks of time. Everything considered, factoring in prep time, etc… I can reliably produce 1,000 an hour.

I’m at a point where I’m capable of devoting at least twenty hours a week to this. Sometimes up to as much as fifty. But not all of it is writing time. There’s editing, creating graphics, putting stuff onto the webpages, etc… For purposes of determining what I can produce for an audience, I’ve estimated using the three hours a day, Monday thru Friday, 15 hours a week, 60 a month, on actual prose creation.

This means I can, reliably, write 60,000 words a month. I’ve chopped that writing up into the following per month;

4 Flash Fiction stories 1000-1500 words long.
2 Flash Fiction stories 500-1000 words long (shorter, due to needing to fit in a card for mailing).
2 Full Length Stories 6,000-9,000 words long.
1 Novel chapter 8,000-10,000 words long.

Low end, that tallies up to 25,000. High end, it’s 36,000.  This is well within my capacity to produce, even with several hours for editing. And, again, this is based on 15 ‘butt in chair’ hours a week. I’ll consistently have more hours once the wee one goes to back to school.

There you have it. That’s how I break it down and plan. September and parts of October are already done. I should have October finished by the 15th and be moving on. The goal is as much as possible. I’ve finished 17,000 words since I started this six weeks ago, and that was while setting up the Patreon, shooting and editing a video, watching the kiddo, and more. I’ve gotten about a quarter of the time I have now, and produced about a quarter of what I plan. Right on target!

Until further notice; this is me!

 

Slogging the Mire: 8/25/17

Slogging the Mire: 8/25/17

Big news! I am officially launching a Patreon page!

If you don’t know, Patreon is a way for people to connect directly with the artists/creators they like and show their support. Now everybody can subscribe to my stories just like they would to a magazine. It rewards me for writing and allows direct access to me and my ‘fans’. Subscribers get access to four stories and a chapter of a novel every single month! Yes, it’s a lot, but I’ve got several months lead already and I’m now writing full time. Keeping up with this is going to be amazingly fun for me. Amazingly fun to read too! The short fiction allows me to dabble in all sorts of genres and styles so there’s lots of variety. I’m having a ball with it so far. I’m really hoping that some of the folks who have spent the last two decades (or more) complimenting my writing will sign up. If not, whatever. I’m doing it anyway! Having this Patreon isn’t about making a ton of cash. It’s about getting to tell my stories to people who will appreciate them. There’s already four stories up on there and they all have cool illustrations done by Jill. Check it out!

Here’s a link to the page; https://www.patreon.com/judemire

I spent the last month prepping for this launch, writing ahead, creating the patreon pages, updating my website, and shooting a promotional video. The video was great fun to do. Tricky though. I’ve not had much experience with more modern video editors and it was a learning experience. I think it turned out okay. I was originally going to launch on September 1st but I’m actually ahead! By a whole week. Ahead in finishing setup, ahead in content, and a good distance ahead of that big deadline boulder in every way!

So there you have it. My big project. My new direction. I feel a little like the crazy man in the blog picture, but that’s nothing new. Why should it stop me now? Here’s hoping that some of you want to take this trip with me!

Thanks!

Slogging the Mire: 8/19/17

Slogging the Mire: 8/19/17

I’ve been hard at work since my last blog post. I’ve managed to re-write/fine tune a 7,000 word story, create a half dozen original mini-stories (adding up to about 9,000 words), and kicked out 3,000 more words into another full length horror story.

While that may seem like a lot, it’s actually about half of what I’d hoped for. That makes sense though; I got about half as much time as expected. So, in a way, while it’s less than I wanted, it’s encouraging because it confirms the speed and my capability when given the time. The main conflict with my time is that adorable little six year old and her summer break. A few more weeks and she’ll be back in school and my goals should be easier to reach.

Another thing that’s been distracting me has been working on a promotional video for myself. I downloaded and tried several different video editors and had very little success. This is not something I think I’ll need with regularity, so I’m not willing to plop down cash for it. This leaves me with free ones, which has been frustrating. They watermark, export at low rez, or don’t include features like adding text. It’s been a hunt to find, install, and test to find the right one.

But I think I found one. Hitfilm Express has a crap ton of features, allows everything I need, and they’re free. They’ve got all sorts of “bundles” you can add on to do cool special effects if you wanna pay for them. It’s attractive bait, but for me, I don’t need it. Their core stuff is more than enough. The program is a beast and my poor computer (used to wimpy writing programs) groans and complains with the process. But it works.

I shot some nature footage and stuck some relaxing music on it to experiment with splicing, fading in and out, adding titles, adding music, etc… It’s not the most exciting thing in the world, but it was educative to create, and that was the goal. Here, check it out.

It’s progress. I figure another week or so and I’ll have my promo video up. Then I can share what the hell I’ve been plotting with all this story plotting.

Not long now. Just, you know, relax. Chill. Watch the ocean roll in and out or something.

I’m gonna get back to it. Peace!

 

Slogging the Mire: 6/24/17

Slogging the Mire: 6/24/17

Alright folks, here’s your update!

That guy in the picture? Those are my plans, smashing head-long into a wall. Nothing really went the way we’d hoped, but that’s not so bad. Turns out, we wound up not too far off the mark.

Instead of building a house, we bought an old, fixer-upper in a town called Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, and have been working on that for the past year. It was a total reno; new electrical, new plumbing, re-framing walls, re-insulating, new drywall, new floors, new windows, new kitchen, new bathroom, and so on… It was kinda like building an entire house, but with more old house to work around at odd angles and, the best part, unlike building from scratch we could actually live in it! Bonus points for not being homeless more than the 10 weeks we were last summer! Living in hotels and camping gets old real fast.

So, the place is far from done. I’ve still got plaster to do, two rooms to knock off and replace, a patio to replace, a deck to build, landscaping, new siding, and a kitchen and a bathroom need tile. But, the heart of the place is intact and a lot of it is cosmetic. So, we’re good. It’s live-able, has a beautiful stream out back, and Jill and I love it. It’ll likely be 3-4 years before the place starts to look close to finished, but that’s okay. Even like this, it’s way better than most of the crappy apartments I’ve lived in.

In April we shut down Forte’ Framing and Gallery. I was sad to see it go, but really, I wasn’t there anymore and Jess wasn’t digging running it for us. The end of a chapter. The goodbye party was fantastic.

Jill’s painting like a mad woman. Some awesome stuff. She’s starting to sell some and make money off it. I have no doubt she’ll be doing this full time soon. Meanwhile she’s teaching art classes and other odds and ends as well. I’m in immigration limbo. I can’t have a job here in Canada until a bunch of expensive paperwork is done and I’m further into the process. Likely a year.

I got back from shutting down Forte in May and hit a great big “what now”? The finances aren’t in place to go full force into more house reno, and there’s no rush anyway. I can’t work an official job. I haven’t consistently written for over a year while working on this move. I considered picking up some other art form. Maybe sculpture, or jewelry, or whatever. Perhaps I’d do more game design? I wrestled it for about two months before I came to a realization.

I’ve only ever been a part time author. I was always working, or full time raising kids, or dealing with crisis. Despite this, I’ve managed to work with several fantastic writers groups, get published in a few magazines, get into an anthology, write for a comic book company, become a finalist in a play competition (twice!), and produce over sixty stories.

What the fuck would happen if I did this full time with no distractions?

Well folks, we’re about to find out. I’m going full time author. Forty hours a week. Like a damn real job. My goal is about five pages a day. At least. Every day, from now on. I’m gonna get big, beefy, finger muscles from all the typing I’ll be doing. What will I be working on? Where will all these newborn words be going?

Stay tuned. Big stuff coming. But for now, I’ll just leave you with a bit of antici…