Friday, June 24, 2016

My answer to: what should I work on next? / Happenings In The Outhouse 24-June-2016

No matter where I'm at in a current project, I'm always thinking about the next one and more.

As I've said before, I find it difficult to plan meticulously each and every book for 12 months in advance because not only do my interests change, so does the landscape of the publishing industry.  My plan for the rest of this year is to finish the current work-in-progress, Book 4 of Central Division Series, and then I have two more seasonal stories to write/publish.  One is set around Halloween and the other Christmas.

Those are a priority.  The ticking time bomb is off and running.

Afterwards, I had planned on writing book 5 . . . until I realized I had, two years ago, written the first book in a trilogy: The Shadowkill Trilogy.

So, after the two seasonal stories, my plan is to write the final two stories to finish out the series.

Afterwards, I'm exploring putting the four books in the Central Division Series in a box set.  Pretty sure The Shadowkill Trilogy will go into a box set too.

Ideas, ideas, ideas . . .

Plans, plans, plans . . .

Keep 'em coming.  Because I have other projects waiting in the wings.

(Hint: I even have two superhero series rolling around in my mind - very exciting!)

Friday, June 17, 2016

The tortoise revisited / Happenings In The Outhouse 16-June-2016

Almost four years ago I wrote a blog post titled "Lessons from a tortoise."

I re-read it again recently as I looked at the state of publishing and how everyone (well, not quite everyone) is preaching the gospel of "Write faster!  Write faster!"

I still believe what I wrote.  And it's as applicable today as it was back then.

Each writer is different.  Each writer has various life skills, talents, methods, and external forces that make each writer unique.

To me, the mantra of writing faster is equivalent to acting like the hare in the race.  Now, if it works for you, go for it.  I won't deny one's unique writing style.  But it's not for everyone, and writing fast doesn't necessarily mean you will succeed--and this has nothing to do with all fast writing is crap; I don't believe that for a second.

Being the tortoise means writing steady and consistently.  I don't care how you break down your writing tasks.  Back in college, I used to write X amount of pages in a day.  My first goal was to write one page.  Then I moved it to two . . . and so on.  Whatever you use for your goal is fine for you, as long as you do it consistently.

If you only have twenty minutes to write each day, do it.  Write with all your heart for those twenty minutes.  Over time, those words will add up.

Be the tortoise.  Speeding quickly towards something is not necessarily the key to success.  Keeping at something for a long period of time is your best shot at success (and I'm talking career success, not success on a single book).  Keep your eye on the finish line.  The finish line is your goal.

Because no one can read your book (or books) if it's not finished.

Friday, June 10, 2016

When all else fails, re-read what you have written / Happenings In The Outhouse 10-June-2016

Something happened when I hit the 20,000 word mark on the latest thriller: I stalled.  I didn't write for a few days (life happens, you know?) and then I struggled with where I wanted to go.

The fourth novel in my Central Division Series is going very well, and I know where I want to go from here.

But I need to fill in the gaps.

So, I decided to go back through my book so far, chapter by chapter, and re-read it.  I'm making notes as I go, to see where I had made promises, created clues that I forgot about, and in one instance changed to District Attorney's name and gender.

If you find yourself stalling, wondering what to write next, may I make a suggestion to try this.  It may work for you.  It may not.

But doing something is better than nothing.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Adjusting the summer schedule / Happenings In The Outhouse 03-June-2016

Summer is here.

And so are the kids.

Which means the schedule I keep nine months out of the year has to dramatically change.

Such is life.  When it comes to planning my week, I take into account various appointments I need to be at so I know how much I will be able to accomplish in that time.  It's not easy at times, and even some last-minute events throw everything out of whack.

I still find time to write almost every single day, even if it's a few hundred words.

I'm keeping it short today.  I am roughly 20,000 words into the fourth novel in the Central Division Series.  It's going very well, with the help of my new mode in outlining.  Not sure if that's the key to it all or if it's just that I'm getting better at this.

Could be a combination of both, if you ask me.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Treat your publishing empire like an investment portfolio / Happenings In The Outhouse 27-May-2016

Each story you put out into the world, whether it's through a publishing company or indie published or even free on your website/blog, is like buying stock in a company.

Some stories will do real well, while others may only sell a few copies a year.  Some, unfortunately, may not sell at all (not including the ones that are free, of course, which can pay off indirectly).

Very few titles will be able to carry the weight of your financial success all by itself.  Yes, yes, we've all heard of Andy Weir's The Martian and J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.  Those are anomalies.  The majority of writers will have to write a plethora of books in order to pay off for years to come--including after you are deceased for the duration of the copyright.

If you treat your publishing empire like an investment portfolio, each story can pay off small individually.  Together, you can earn more and more with each subsequent title.  And taking each title into different mediums, whether it's print, digital, audio, film, foreign, each one can be split into even more revenue streams.

This makes me smile when I think of how these stories will pay off in the future--even in the decades to come when my children are out of the house.

Friday, May 20, 2016

New mindset for outlining / Happenings In The Outhouse 20-May-2016

A month ago, I said I was going to try my hand at outlining the fourth thriller book in the Central Division Series.  It went well, brainstorming the beginning, middle, and end, and a lot of pieces in between.

But after two days, I was itching to just start writing the book, because that's the way I roll.

What brought about this urging for me to outline?

I discovered a new podcast a few months ago called the Story Grid Podcast with Shawn Coyne and Tim Grahl.  When I started listening, I knew I had to listen to them all.  And I highly recommend it, if you want a new sense of storytelling and why some stories work and many don't.

Shawn Coyne has been an editor for over twenty-five years and wrote a book called the Story Grid.  Check it out.  It's well worth the investment, no matter what genre you write.

In a number of the podcast episodes, Shawn suggested not necessarily planning out one's day in word count but in writing a specific scene or two.  The scene or two may take up the word count you need for the day, but it's a different mindset to have, looking at it by scene instead of words.

With my new book, I decided to take this approach.  After the day's writing, I would plan out the next scenes.  It's still early in the process, but it seems to be working well.

Friday, May 13, 2016

My love of storytelling / Happenings In The Outhouse 13-May-2016

I've always been drawn to great storytellers.  Back when I was very young, I had several . . . well, books on records.  Yes, those circular vinyl things that spin around and around on a turntable.  Yes, I'm that old.  Then, as technology grew, it became books on cassette tapes.

But I will never forget the awesome storytelling power of Paul Harvey, on the radio, telling us about The Rest Of The Story.

I'd love listening to those Paul Harvey tales whenever I could, trying to guess who he was speaking about.  I could never guess them, and the surprise endings always amazed me.  But what amazed me the most was his ability to tell a great story.

Musicians who tell stories in their songs have also affected me.  Check out the early days of Will Smith as the Fresh Prince in the hit duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince if you don't believe me.  And he's certainly not the only one.  Some of my favorite musical storytellers are John Denver and Gordon Lightfoot.

Not only do I love the sound of a good storyteller.  This even grew from the voiceover works of Don LaFontaine (think of movie trailers that start with "In A World . . ." Yes, this is that guy) and James Earl Jones (the voice of Darth Vader).

I used to work as a dispatcher for the Sheriff's department in my county.  This involved many midnight to eight shifts.  In the wee hours of the morning (we're talking like four and five AM, mind you), when I grew tired of watching movies, I'd flip through the channels for something interesting to watch.  Trust me, there hardly ever was.

One show started to fascinate me.  It was called The Most (on the History Channel) and the host was Mike Rowe.  At the time, I didn't know who this guy was, but his voice was memorable and his storytelling ability was amazing.  Over time, Rowe went on to host/narrate various shows like Deadliest Catch and Dirty Jobs.

Earlier this week, while searching through my Stitcher app I discovered a new podcast by Rowe called The Way I Heard It.  On this podcast, he tells 5-6 minute stories in much the same fashion as Paul Harvey.  As of this posting, there are sixteen episodes, and all are amazing.  This is one podcast you need to listen to, if you loved the stories of Paul Harvey or you even love storytelling in general.  These weekly episodes are for the curious mind and gives the timely history behind many people who may (or may not) have heard of.