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Jolly Motivation: Week One

Jolly Motivation: Week One

Well, here we are already! Week one of my ‘come on old chap buck up and fly right’ self-motivation schedule has come and gone, so how’d I do? Well, not terribly, but not terrifically either. I have yet to achieve either of my goals, but I wrote quite a bit and sorted out a couple of tricky things that had been hanging over my head. The arrival of hideously addictive space roguelike-like FTL slowed productivity quite a bit, especially after I got it into my head to take notes during a session and it turned into something I just had to write (Crew Of The Osprey: A Recollection). That wasn’t such a disciplined thing to do, although I had a lot of fun and it’s been a while since I got into that kind of writing space, where everything was clear and all I needed was time to hammer out the words—it feels like everything I’m working on right now is fiddly and intricate, with a lot of things to balance and think about and consider, and just splurting out ten thousand words of straightforward space adventure was a nice break from all that. All in all I can’t say I regret it, but in terms of focus I feel that I need to improve.

Taking down the rebel flagship with fire bombs is an accomplishment, but is it productive? (Spoiler: No.)

So! My stated goals for the week were:

1) Charlotte Powers #5 outlined to a basic degree; connection with #4 firmly dealt with.
2) Episode 10 of Tactics Heart outlined and written.

And on both counts I have failed. CP#5 still isn’t outlined and the connection to #4 needs further expansion. Tactics Heart 10 IS outlined, but only around three-quarters written. So, in terms of actual new words over the past week (not counting the FTL thing), I got around ten thousand out. Which isn’t bad, but still, Could Do Better. With that in mind:

* Charlotte Powers #5 outlined SERIOUSLY.
* Charlotte Powers #4 sorted out in terms of continuity and such.
* Tactics Heart Episode 10 very definitely written.
* Tactics Heart Episode 11 outlined.

* Tactics Heart Episode 11 written.
* Charlotte Powers #4 edited.
* Stop playing FTL so much gosh.

See you next week!

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Posted by on September 19, 2012 in Of Writing


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Jolly Motivation: Goals, Dang It

Jolly Motivation: Goals, Dang It

Lately I’ve been lazy; so very lazy. (“Lazy” in this case meaning “Still working like an electric beaver, except on ‘easy’ things like proofing and making notes and research and such; not actually producing anything new and that’s what needs to happen”.) I’m out of the habit of writing and into the habit of all of the other activities that surround writing, and that’s not such a good place to stay for extended periods. I have all these projects and so many notes but very few actual written words—I mean, I do feel that when I actually do write those words that they’ll be very splendid words indeed because of all this groundwork I’ve done, but I also feel that until you’ve actually produced those phantom words that nothing’s worth much of anything. First drafts are the only currency of worth, everything else is just … everything else.

Because posts are more interesting with pictures, here’s a picture of the gaang as fruit.

With all of that out of the way, I think what I should do—and what I will do—what I will attempt to do—is begin using this bjournal as more of an update on where I am and what I’m doing. I’ll set goals and then chastise myself for failing to complete them, or else congratulate myself on a job jolly well done. And so:

I just released Miya Black V: Every Glorious Tomorrow, which was good. I sat on that one for probably too long. In any case it completes the first ‘arc’ of the Miya Black story (two more to go, phew), and is perhaps a good place to rest the series for a little while. Not that I don’t love Miya and want to continue her story, but I think at this point what I need to do is spread out a little more, try new things, and see if I can’t connect with readers with fresh projects.

With that said my priority right now is Charlotte Powers. #4 and #5, to be specific. The thing with those two books is that they’re pretty closely linked, and although #4 could be considered ‘done’ I just really feel that I need to get #5 into at least an advanced outline state before releasing #4. So, that’s what I’m mostly doing at the moment, working on #5 and figuring out a bunch of really quite astonishingly fiddly things. It’s not so much that I wrote myself into a corner, more that I made quite a few promises with books 1 – 4 and #5 is where I have to deliver on those promises in the most satisfying way possible. It’s a book that I just really, really want to get absolutely right. So, the bad news for Charlotte Powers fans is that #4 isn’t going to be out for a month or two, but the good news is that #5 will follow relatively closely, maybe even before the end of the year if things go that way. It’d be nice to have a completed series out, although (typically) I’ve already started sketching a follow-up series that could be pretty exciting. More on that after #5 is released.

Bright Battle Story: Tactics Heart is another focus right now. Serialised story, free to read, with an ebook to be released once it’s done. I know most serials are a ‘write/release as you go’ kind of thing, and I was originally going to do it that way, but with this one … I just kind of want to get more of it written before I start releasing. Just in case I need to add foreshadowing or something, you know I love sneaking a tiny detail in at the start that becomes vitally important near the end. Anyway, I really really love this story and these characters (all seven hundred of them) (just kidding) (kind of) and really just want to get it out there, but I have to go with my heart on this; needs more time, needs more effort. I’ve already got the first nine episodes written, and it looks like there’ll be twenty-five in the series … I mean, I could start releasing now … and I kind of want to … actually, that might be a good ‘goal’, get Tactics Heart sorted out.

Other projects are other projects. I pick away at them now and then but it’s probably best to keep them in the background for now. So then!


1) Charlotte Powers #5 outlined to a basic degree; connection with #4 firmly dealt with.
2) Episode 10 of Tactics Heart outlined and written.

Everything else can be worked on or not worked on as it happens; these two things are what I will have accomplished by next Tuesday. See you then!

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Posted by on September 11, 2012 in Of Writing


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Setting myself up for disappointment or remaining idealistic in the face of cynicism? Let’s watch!

Phew. Or actually … actually yes, I got it right the first time, phew. Just finished the final FINAL final proof of Miya Black III. I had a feeling from the start that it was going to be the last one, and I actually enjoyed this read-through quite a bit–without as many things to tidy up or errors to mark I could concentrate more on the story and the pacing, and generally I came out of it feeling pretty positive about the whole thing. I think for this particular book I did around five editing runs and five proofing runs, mostly because I wrote it so long ago. I can remember working on the first draft while my wife was in labour with our first daughter, over two years ago now. (Of course I didn’t just write all the way through, but if you’ve ever attended a birth you know there’s quite a lot of sitting around with nothing much happening in between the exciting bits. Seriously, those things go on for hours.) Proofing, for me at least, is like cleaning a room. You scrub away at a bit of muck on the floor and get it looking good, but that makes everything around it look shabby in comparison, so you work to clean the rest of the floor but then the curtains look all threadbare and dusty–it’s a gradual process, and for me it generally requires at least three passes before I’m happy.

Anyway, it’s done now! Proofed, formatted, compiled, all bundled up snug and warm in a lovely little mobi file. I’ll just put it aside overnight then look at it again in the morning–a quick flick-through on the ol’ Kindle just to make sure the ncx index thing is doing what it should and the navigation is working properly and so forth, and then I get to hit the big shiny ‘publish’ button. (It’s not actually big or shiny, but it still makes my heart beat faster and my mouth go dry when it comes time to actually hit it.) From my experience publishing other books I’ve learnt that it’s best just to get it over with and walk away–focus on something else. Once you’ve judged something ready it does no good to dwell, far better to publish-and-forget and move on. In this case to the next in the series, Miya Black IV! It’s been far too long since I even looked at this one, I hope it’s as good as I remember it being. I had to make some tough decisions in IV, but on previous read-throughs I always felt “Yes, that was the best call”. Hopefully I’ll feel the same way this time. Actually, I’m kind of excited to read it again.

Also, funnily enough, getting back into the themes of Miya Black III again turned out to be kind of inspiring, in a way–one of the underlying themes of Miya Black is the difference between what’s right and what’s easy. Well, I really didn’t want to do this last proof, I thought the penultimate proof was going to be the final one and when it turned out it wasn’t I considered just saying “Sod it” and publishing it as it was. That would’ve been the ‘easy’ option, but in the end I went with what I knew was right–I knew it needed another proof, and as it turned out I found a couple of errors, nothing major but they would’ve hurt had I published with them still present. This final FINAL final proofed version is publishable, there might be a few errors still hiding in there but I only found three on this last pass which is well within my standards of acceptable quality (I operate under the assumption that for every error I find there was one I missed; three errors in 130,000 words is, I think, acceptable).

Anyway, enough faffing around. Time for a small reward; I’m off to play a little From Dust.

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Posted by on July 28, 2011 in Of Writing


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