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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Easier Said Than Done

This last week was the first week during which I lived entirely out at the remote guard station that I've been assigned to for fighting fire this summer. As you'll recall from my previous posts, I waxed eloquent about how I was going to continue writing during the evenings after I was off shift. Well, as I predicted, doing so is far easier said than done.

Of the four evenings I spent out there at the guard stations, I was only able to do any writing on one of them. I was called out on a dispatch on one of those evenings (nothing I can do about that) but the other two evenings, I was basically just being a lazy bum. So... I've got a lot of work to do.

But, I did make some progress with Kricket's Song, so it wasn't a total loss. I'm nearly done with Chapter 11, and our company of heroes are about to move on to the next set of challenges and dangers in the search for Katerina and the secret she disappeared with. Jonah knew the Guv was his enemy, but he's discovered a new enemy along the way, one that could be even more dangerous and relentless than the Guv itself. The Grounders are a fanatical sect devoted to the same Professor who wrote the journal that Jonah carries with him as his clue to finding his fiancee. And they want that journal back. Their strange powers make them formidable indeed, and they foreshadow the challenges that Jonah and the crew of the Kricket will face when they finally reach their as yet unknown destination.

So, stay tuned. I'll keep plugging away at it, and hopefully I can make some progress on the rewrite for The Serenity Solution as well. News as it happens! Or rather, when I get a chance to sit down and write about it...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Soldiering On

This last week has been a little difficult for me in a couple of ways. It started out with the news that "Exequies" had absolute no success in the Writers of the Future Contest. A nice little one line e-mail dashed all hopes with that. I'm not sure which market I'll be looking at next for it. Honestly, anything related to short stories is pretty low on my list of priorities right now. If something comes up regarding "Exequies," I'll let you know.

The second thing that's been difficult is trying to find the energy and motivation to write after coming home from 9 hour work day (I get an hour lunch, but in this line of work, you're lucky if you actually get 30 minutes) that is both mentally and physically challenging. On top of the hours I actually spend at work, I've got to spend time learning material for the job I'm picking up after the summer, which further eats away at my time and energy.

So I'll be honest, Kricket's Song made very little progress this last week, and the rewrite for The Serenity Solution made absolute no progress. I did get lots of inspiration from music that I've come to associate with Kricket's Song over the past couple months, but inspiration isn't words on the page, not yet. I still plan on taking my laptop to the fire guard station I'll be living at for most of the week, and hopefully I'll make some progress on my projects after business hours.

We'll see.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Maintaining Momentum

As I briefly mentioned in my last post, I did get a job in Southern Nevada, and now my summer job fighting wildfires has started. The temptation for me (and, I suspect, for many writers) would be to say "Well, I'm busy now, I guess I'll just have to write on my days off." The problem with a job like wild land firefighting is that there's no guarantee I'll get my days off. And even if I did, that's only two days out of the week for writing. And let's face it, that sort of progress would be dismally slow if I'm serious about getting books published.

So now, perhaps more than ever, it's time for me to get serious and put the writer's age-old adage into practice: "If you want to write, you've got to MAKE the time to write."

I'll be pulling eight hour days, five days a week, and if there are fires going on, I could be working as much as sixteen hours a day. In addition, I'll be spending all of my work days out in the woods in a cabin where there is no internet and the electricity is less than stable. My intent is to take my laptop out there with me and to keep working on Kricket and TSS, regardless of the situation. I plan on writing at least 1,000 words a day, except maybe on those 16-hour days (I'll need that sleep if I'm actively fighting fires). Now, planning is all well and good, but only time will tell if I can maintain my current momentum (which actually isn't all that fast right now). It's time to test my dedication to writing.

Once I transition to the other job in Southern Nevada after the fire season, I will have more regular days off (possibly as many as three a week), and it should be easier to maintain a writing schedule. Again, time will tell.

For now, Kricket's Song is progressing nicely. I reached the official 1/3 complete mark a couple of days ago. I believe it's turning out to be a fairly clean manuscript, which means at this point I don't see myself having to go back and do a lot of rewrites on it. But, that may change once I get the first draft completed and some beta readers get their hooks into it. Right now, I'm just taking it one thing at a time, and I have to get the first draft finished first. I started Chapter 11 last night; I don't know how many chapters there will end up being, but I've been pleased with the progress, especially considering all the traveling I've been doing on top of looking for work and graduating college.

As for The Serenity Solution, I've finally got a bit of progress to report on that. Following what seems to be the very successful formula for Kricket, I wrote out some detailed biographies for the main and major secondary characters for the book, just so that I have them firmly in mind when I start the rewrite. The next step is to outline the overall plot, and hopefully keep it from being too ambitious as was the last attempt. Then I'll start doing detailed outlines of a couple of chapters at a time, and it will then be time to actually start writing. I know it seems like a very structured system, but so far, that seems to be the way I work best. Once I get my skills polished up a lot more, maybe I can be more lax on the structure.

For "Exequies" and the Writers of the Future Contest, I honestly have no idea what's going on. I thought they were judging Q2 for 2011 in which the story was entered, but looking at their site, it would appear they have just finished awarding the winners for Q1. So...who knows when something will happen with that. It appears they may be a bit behind schedule right now. That's fine, I've got plenty of other stuff to be working on with Kricket and TSS.

That's about it for now. Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Kricket Project, Part 5

Let's roll into the last of the cast from Kricket's Song, and then I'll move on to the other news related to my life as it impacts my writing.

Matroyna Demochev (Mattie): Crime Boss Lady. Mattie runs the underground smuggling and criminal ring in Gryphon's Reach, a floating city where the Guv has very little control over the people. Mattie is Katerina Kroichev's mother, but she took back her maiden name after leaving her husband, the Vice Minister of Defense for the Guv. Mattie, like her daughter, can be very controlling and manipulative, although in general, she has a good heart. She's like a mother to everyone she considers a friend, but is capable of shocking brutality if she feels someone is endangering her friends or her "business" interests.

When Katerina's clues lead Jonah and his friends through Mattie's domain, the Matushka takes it upon herself to thoroughly vet them and their motives for looking for her daughter. The Guv may be dangerous, but there's nothing as deadly as a mother protecting her child!

Admiral Evander Greystache: Legendary hero. Admiral Greystache is the Guv Navy Officer responsible for the destruction of the fleet that belong to the infamous pirate captain Morrigan. He captured the hearts and minds of the populace after that heroic battle, and he seemed to be the Guv's perfect poster child. But only a few years after that battle, Greystache retired from the Navy, and led an expedition into unknown lands, apparently seeking a fable floating city. His entire expedition disappeared and was never heard from again...

Until now.

Okay, that's it on character. I was going to add another one, but as the story has progressed, it seems more and more likely that he will play a background role. He may not even show up at all, though his influence will certainly be felt. If you've been keeping an eye on my progress meter to the right, you can see that - when I get a chance to write - Kricket's Song has been moving along nicely.

So that leads me on to the other parts of my life that affect my writing. I'm happy to report that I've successfully gotten that job I was working for, and I should now be gainfully employed for the majority of the year, with a relatively flexible schedule. This may, I repeat may, prove to be very good for my writing. We'll have to see, as I don't actually start that job until late August. I'll be doing firefighting for the summer, as I have been the last two summers, which can be rough on writing. However, I intend to make a concerted effort to continue making forward progress on Kricket and my other projects.

I still haven't heard anything on "Exequies," although they are now apparently working on judging the quarter in which I entered it. So hopefully, I'll hear something soon.

More as it happens. Thanks for reading!