Friday, July 21, 2017

Create A Character List Early On In The First Draft / Happenings In The Outhouse 21-July-2017

I'm in the middle of editing the last two novels in the Shadowkill trilogy, and I've come across something that may be helpful to fiction writers: as early as possible, create a character list as you write.

This may seem like a no-brainer to some and a "oh I don't need that; I'll remember all of my characters" to others, but trust me when I say that for most, you'll thank me later.

No matter how minor a character may seem, it's good to jot their name down and maybe add a note on how they're relevant.  About a third of the way through book 2, I discovered I had a different name for an extremely minor character.  I didn't have a note on this one.

This list doesn't have to be some Wikipedia page or anything.  Just a name and anything relevant to the story.

Friday, July 14, 2017

What Does A Break Look Like To You And Your Art / Happenings In The Outhouse 14-July-2017

Here's the scenario: you've worked on your manuscript for months and months, and have finally finished it.  You lean back, both exhausted and relieved.  You may even be a little apprehensive and scared.  It's your baby.  It's not quite ready for the world, in your mind.  How long do you wait before tackling any rewrites/edits?

Stephen King has advised to put your manuscript away for a minimum of six weeks before looking at it again.  Dean Wesley Smith doesn't rewrite at all (he has a circular writing technique that is very clever and I want to give a shot at on future projects).  In fact, Smith doesn't even look at the manuscript again unless his wife Kris tells him to fix a few things.

Where do you fit in?

Brandon Sanderson, between his enormous epic fantasy novels, writes shorter books.  I think I read once that Stephen King does the same thing with his novels, but don't quote me on that.

What does taking a break look like to you?  In the past, I've read much more than usual.  It's something I call "recharging my batteries," because I feel like I haven't read as much as I should (which is probably not the case) and I love reading new things.

I'm working on the edits for books 2 and 3 of the Shadowkill trilogy.  It's going well, much better than I anticipated.  And, of course, I'm looking to see what I should work on next.

Stay tuned . . . the future is very exciting . . .

Friday, July 7, 2017

Stats On Third Novel In Shadowkill Trilogy / Happenings In The Outhouse 07-July-2017

On July 4th, while many Americans were celebrating our country's Independence Day, I not only celebrated that, I also finished the third (and final?) novel in the Shadowkill trilogy, titled Storming The Hill.

I started it on 3/19/2017
I finished it on 7/4/2017
Total days is 108

The novel came out at 69,916 words, averaging 647 words per day.

Unfortunately, there were 30 zero word days.  Over half could be attributed to our son's graduation and the vacation to Tennessee, even though I still could've found a few minutes here and there to write.  That's something I'll have to revisit down the road.

When I take the actual writing days into account, which were 78, my average words per day rose to 896.

I'm budgeting the next two months to edit the final two books, prepare covers, write the blurbs and product descriptions, research keywords.  I haven't decided if I will do any pre-orders or not.  I also feel I will publish this on all platforms.  I won't make these Amazon exclusive.

So, what's next?

No worries, I'm already brainstorming what to do next.  I have at least three short stories I may publish in the meantime--while I work on books 2 and 3--so there will always be something I'm working on.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Vacation vs. Writing / Happenings In The Outhouse 30-June-2017

For the first two weeks of June, my family, in-laws, and I were out of town, on vacation.  We drove down to the Knoxville, TN area--more specifically, Pigeon Forge, TN.  My in-laws rented a cabin--a very nice three-story, five-bedroom monstrosity--that overlooked the Great Smoky Mountains.

It was truly relaxing.

Wi-Fi at the cabin was spotty at best, which meant I didn't get much writing done--oh, who am I kidding, I didn't write at all.  I did get a lot of reading done, along with visiting relatives and seeing the sites.  Absolutely no regrets.  I feel like relaxing times are needed to recharge the creative batteries.

Now that I've been back for over two weeks, the third novel in the Shadowkill Trilogy is nearing completion.  I have over 63,000 words written so far.  How much is left?  I plan on finishing by next week--crossing my fingers.  I started this third book on March 19th.  The original goal was to finish by May 19th, but with planning for the trip and our son's high school graduation, writing took the back seat a little.  I still wrote up until the day we left, but it was less and less.

Again, no regrets.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Fun and Games - 5 Favorite Rock Albums / Happenings In The Outhouse 23-June-2017

Some writers listen to music while they write.  Depending on my mood, I do.  And what I listen to varies.  Honestly though, I don't listen to music.  From my Amazon author page: (my) genre interests are as expansive as his musical tastes--from classics like Mozart and Beethoven to heavy metal like Poison and Metallica.

I grew up listening to country music--honestly, there wasn't much else, so it was a bit forced upon me--but when the 1980's came along and I was in high school, I became a huge fan of heavy metal/hard rock.

I thought of my top five rock albums--sort of a collection of what I would love to have with me if I found myself stranded on a desert island (and either an endless supply of batteries or some unusual power source to boot).  One caveat to this list is that I love all of the songs on these albums.  These are, and in no particular order:

1) Poison - Open Up and Say . . . Ahh!

Note: this was the very first hard rock album I ever bought.

2) Motley Crue - Dr. Feelgood

3) Metallica - Metallica (better known as the Black Album)

4) Skid Row - Skid Row (their first album)

Note: this album has an interesting history for me.  I read a lot of heavy metal magazines, from Hit Parader to Metal Edge, and one band that kept popping up was Skid Row.  Then I finally brought down and bought it at the local Ben Franklin store.  Holy cow!  From the first song, I was hooked!

5) Guns N' Roses - Appetite For Destruction

There are others, of course, but these five are the main ones.  Others added to the list are Def Leppard's Hysteria, Tesla's The Great Radio Controversy, Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet, Aerosmith's Pump, Megadeth's Countdown to Extinction, and so on.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Check Your Attitude / Happenings In The Outhouse 16-June-2017

It disheartens me when I hear people say, "OMG, 2017 absolutely sucks!"  Or, replace 2017 with 2016.  I've heard it all before.  The only thing that changes is the year.

Today's post is about one's attitude and how your attitude affects your life.  One can always find something bad . . . if that's all they're looking for.

Let me tell you right now, 2011 freaking sucked for my family and I.  But there were lessons learned and events that have a profound affect, even to this day.

In January 2011, within two days of each other, our van was taken away for repossession and we received foreclosure papers on our home.  I wasn't even a month into a new leadership position at my job and already things took a turn for the worst.  Fast forward a month, the van was back and the house was no longer in foreclosure land.

But wait!  There's more!

On April 11th, my wife was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).  She spent the bulk of 2011 in Rochester, MN, at the Mayo Clinic.  I took over 20 trips down to visit her.  Around Christmas, a good friend of mine was complaining and being all bah-humbug.  And he had absolutely nothing to complain about!  He didn't go through anything like what our family went through.  Now, I could've acted like this too.

But I didn't.  I was thankful my wife was still around and healing.  Fast forward to today, she's still not 100%.

I came across a YouTube video my sister-in-law put together after a benefit in May 2011.  I watched it numerous times years ago, but it had been a while.  Watching it again, and seeing all of the people present, brought back a host of emotions.

One of those emotions was thankfulness.  I was thankful for all those who helped.  I am also thankful for all that happened in 2011.

Friday, June 9, 2017

What Sacrifices Are You Making To Achieve Your Art? / Happenings In The Outhouse 09-June-2017

In mid-May, Steven Pressfield wrote a rather interesting post titled "Warriors and Mothers."

I highly suggest reading it first before we go on.


Okay, let's go.

In this post, Pressfield talks about what sacrifices mothers make when they're pregnant.  Typically, they may stay more at home while others seem to be out and about all the time--or, at least, they give that perception.

This got me thinking of my college years at Bemidji State University.  I wrote (and finished) my first novel while in college.  There were many nights where I was up until two or three in the morning, hunched over my Brother word processor, cranking out page after page.  Now, this novel (which as yet may or may not see the light of day) was just over 1,000 pages when I was done.  Yes, you heard correctly.  1,000 pages.  And, with roughly 250-350 words on a page, depending the amount of "white space," this horror novel was . . . yes, 250,000 to 350,000 words.  A quarter-million word horror novel.  When I hear that most nowadays are around 75,000, this one was incredibly long.

But I still worked at it.

I learned how to write.

And finish.

I made sacrifices.  When I had friends who were going out to the bars 3-4 nights a week and were involved in multiple activities, I limited my activities outside my little dorm and worked on my art.  But the friends who were truly friends knew what I was doing, and encouraged me to do it.

As a side note, the second novel I ever wrote and finished was also of the horror genre, and I will guess to be close to 400,000 words.  This one may see the light of day in a year or so as I am considering breaking it up into a short series (probably 4-5 books).  But, more on that at a future date and time . . .