Friday, March 24, 2017

Stats on 2nd Book in Shadowkill Trilogy / Happenings In The Outhouse 24-Mar-2017

On Sunday March 19th, 2017, I finished Homeland Defense, the second novel in the Shadowkill trilogy.

Also on March 19th, I started the third book, Storming The Hill.  This will close out the trilogy.  Will there be future books in the universe I had created?  I honestly do not know.  There are so many other books/series I want to write, but one never knows when I get a spark of a new idea that I can use in the Shadowkill universe.

I started writing Homeland Defense on 1/9/2017, which brings the total days I worked on it at 70.  This is just the first draft.  When I finish Storming The Hill, I will go back and edit both at the same time.  I'm still shooting for a summer release of both novels, which will include a box set of all three, so I'll be a busy beaver.

Homeland Defense runs at 59,543 words.  I averaged 851 words a day, but when I factor in the 11 days that had zero writing--I even had a day I wrote only 25 words, but that still counted as a writing day--the average jumps up to 1,009 in the 59 actual writing days.

I am currently around the 5,000 word mark in Storming The Hill.  It's a good click so far, and it's been fun.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Worst Critics Are Writers (AKA What's Wrong With Prim's Goat?) / Happenings In The Outhouse 17-Mar-2017

For a number of years, I've been listening to writing podcasts where other writers would criticize The Hunger Games and the scene often referred to as "Prim's goat."

Last year, my oldest daughter, who was thirteen at the time, read the book and I made a comment about the scene to her.  I was under the impression this scene of Prim's goat was an entire chapter and stuck out like a sore thumb.  She frowned and told me she couldn't even remember that scene.  So she looked it up.  She eventually found it, shrugged, and asked, "And?  What's wrong with it?"

I didn't know.

Recently, I listened to the entire Hunger Games trilogy on audiobook.  When I got to the scene where Katniss talked about Prim's goat . . . I was disappointed that other writers would take it to heart with such vileness.  In audio form, it was not even five minutes--in page form, um, maybe 2-3 pages tops.

What the hell!  I thought the scene was perfect and fit in the story nicely.

The worst critics seem to be, in fact, other writers.  We are taught to write in a certain way and to do things in a certain way, and when other stories fly in the face of it, writers (not all, mind you, but they are vocal) get their panties up in a bunch.

Honestly, I think they're jealous of others' success when theirs isn't as . . . successful.

I am probably the least panty buncher of them all.  It doesn't take much to entertain me--yes, I was a cheap date during my "dating" years (thank God I don't have to deal with that crap now, as I've been married almost nineteen years).  This past weekend, I rented the new Ghostbusters movie from the library--yes, the one that got all the negative reviews from die hard Ghostbusters fans.  Guess what?  I loved it.  Oh, sure, there were spots that I criticized and thought they could've done a better job or if they didn't work at being clever, but by and large it was a good movie.  My youngest daughter, who is ten, laughed all the way through it.

If you have a beta readers, it may be best for them NOT to be a writer.  Not to say that writers can't offer tips on your story, but find someone who loves to read.  You may be surprised at what you'll hear.  Aside from my writers' group, none of my beta readers are writers.  All are avid readers, and do a wonderful job of pointing out any mistakes I make.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Where you can be found - investing in your career - making it easy to find you / Happenings In The Outhouse 10-Mar-2017

Last week, a guy I work with had just returned from vacation.  He knew I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, and asked me if I knew a certain author.  Apparently, while on vacation, he met the family of this particular author.

The name sounded familiar, but, after a while, names tend to blend.  So I did what anyone nowadays would do: I Googled the author.

I didn't find much.  Oh, sure, this author had a Wordpress website (with wordpress in the web address, which means it's the free version--come on, people, if you're gonna do that, just pay for the darn thing; otherwise, just go with a BlogSpot blog).  The author had a Facebook page, which hadn't been updated since 2013.  This author may or may not have even been on Twitter.

I will call the author a "he" since a saw a picture of him.  He had a smattering of short stories, and even had novels published by Tor--okay, I'm impressed by that bit.

Honestly, though, it still wasn't much.  I was surprised.  He had been publishing for quite a number of years.

Google my name: Mark S. R. Peterson.  Since I have a common enough name, you get other hits too, but for the most part it all leads back to me.

And, again, I suck at marketing.

It doesn't take much to start building an online presence.  A blog post here and there, even publishing here and there, it doesn't take much.  And this particular author had been publishing for years.  Much longer than me.

The point is that if you find someone who wants to know more about you or your books, be mindful of what many people will do nowadays.  Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will your career.  But if you treat your career like an investment, adding to it bit by bit over time, your presence will grow.

Friday, March 3, 2017

111 months / Happenings In The Outhouse 03-Mar-2017

A few weeks ago, an area newspaper had a front page headline in regards to a young man who was sentenced to 111 months for a string of burglaries.

Then, I thought about the scope of 111 months.  Nine years and four months, to be exact--not including any time served or time off for good behavior, of course.

Imagine how much the world has changed in the last nine-plus years.

Imagine what life will be like after those 111 months.

The future is bright, no matter how you look at it.

What will you do?  Will you wait, procrastinating, eating up time with mindless events, waiting for just the right moment?

Or will you do something, today?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Stress, life happens, and writing / Happenings In The Outhouse 24-Feb-2017

Last week, Dean Wesley Smith wrote an excellent blog post, titled Protecting Choice, where he explored the reasons behind not writing--the good reasons, not the "oh I just don't feel like it" reason.  It's well worth reading it, as well as pretty much everything else he writes.

I am currently at the 35,000 word mark in the second novel in the Shadowkill trilogy.  When I've looked at the past few weeks on my daily word count spreadsheet, I noticed a number of days lately where I wrote nothing.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Nothing.

Last week, my son had a medical emergency, which required me to spend a night in the hospital with him while the doctors figured out what was wrong with him.  He has type one diabetes, but it appeared not to be related to it.

A few weeks before that, I had vehicle problems--both of my vehicles were down, oddly enough with almost the same problem.

A few years ago, if you recall, I had my own personal medical emergency.  I am taking medication, but one of the side effects are . . . well, some I won't mention, for reasons I won't make clear here, but one of the main side effects are mood swings.  Meaning, bad ones.  Quick to anger, and stuff like that.  I recognize when my stress goes through the roof and feel my anger building up, so I work hard at not snapping at my family.  Some times I succeed.  Other times, I hate to say, I do not.

Life happens to us all.  Find ways to get yourself through it.  Find remedies, be it exercise, relaxation, hobbies.



Friday, February 17, 2017

Fight the fear - what's the worst that could happen? / Happenings In The Outhouse 17-Feb-2017

Writers (and most artists/creative types in general) are fickle creatures.  We are fearful.

We have the fear of failure.

The fear of success.

The fear of the "oh, my gosh, look what you did!" reaction from others.

We have a fear of putting our work out there, even when we know in our heart of hearts, that it's not quite perfect.

Fight the fear.  What's the worst that will happen?
My first indie published book was a nonfiction book called Debt Free I Do: 99 Ways Of Having A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget.



When family and friends found out about this, they laughed.  "What in the world do you know about weddings?"

But I didn't care.  I published it anyway.

Now, almost five years later, I have over 20 published works (some for free on my website, even), from short stories to full-length novels.  Who's laughing now?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Write, Don't Preach / Happenings In The Outhouse 10-Feb-2017

I was listening to a webinar a few weeks ago when they were discussing social change through our writing.

The first book that came to mind was The Chamber by John Grisham.  I saw the movie before I read the book, but the one thing that stood out in my mind (in the book version) was that John Grisham didn't preach about capital punishment.

In fact, by the end of the novel, he set the moral implications of capital punishment on a silver platter, as if presenting both sides of the coin.

The novel gave us a choice.  Both sides seemed plausible, no matter what side you stood on.  He didn't preach one side over the other, even if he did hold a certain view.  The reader just never saw that side of him.

I've read books where the authors preached their social views on issues to the absolute extreme.  Whether I believed in the issue or found that side completely absurd, preaching has always grated me the wrong way.  Even if I believed it.

If you have a story, tell it.  If there are issues you want to address, do it through story.  You may actually sway a reader to your side if you tell your story, through the actions of your characters, well enough.  Take as an example: The Hunger Games.  Suzanne Collins did a wonderful job of portraying the grim realities of a post-apocalyptic life and the greed of a totalitarian system.  Not once did she preach that the big bad government was horrible and should be stopped.  She told it through the story--and through the other two novels in the series.