Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pleasant Company

The plane was actually on time for once, no last minute mechanical failures, no delays.  Damian squeezed into his seat with a grimace, wedging his legs and stowing his carry-on safely beneath the seat.  He didn't want to be harassed by the flight attendant if he could help it.  The pilot was already waggling the wings in preparation of take-off, and they were prowling the narrow aisles like hungry mountain lions.

Damian had nearly missed boarding.  He'd spent so much time cleaning up all the damage in his room, that he had to skip his usual morning coffee.  That put him in a bad mood.  It was even worse having to push past two other passengers and cram into the window seat.  At least the plan was on time and he wouldn't have to sit long on the tarmac.  He'd certainly had worse luck before.  Hadn't everyone?

"They don't really make these seats for us tall guys, do they."  It was the man next to him that had leaned in to speak.

Damian flashed him a token smile.  "No, they don't."

"At least you're not fat," the man observed.

Damian wasn't quite sure how to respond to the comment.  He certainly was not fat - too skinny, if he were to be the judge - and neither was his riding companion.  In fact, the man appeared to be in great shape.  His obviously expensive suit hung perfectly on a frame that filled out the shoulders, but not the waist.  Wavy blond hair was combed just so, topping a handsome, clean-shaven face.  Sky blue eyes stared back at him.

"I'll be honest, on any flights from the states, I generally end up next to some real porkers."  He flashed a brilliant smile.

Damian return and unsure, lopsided grin of his own.  "Yeah," he replied.

What else was there to say?  He didn't particularly like the usage of "porker", but they were going to be on this plane for a long time.  He didn't want to make it uncomfortable.  Well... any more than it already was.

"Sonny Hass, Energy Broker."  The man held out his hand.

Damian shook it.  "Damian Gardner, Software Engineer."

"You have business in Vienna?" the man asked.  That was the destination of the flight, after all.

"Yeah," Damian answered.

The man settled back into his chair.  "If you don't mind me asking, what sort of business?"

Damian shrugged.  There was no harm in telling this man.  "I work for a small company, Softsync.  We write banking software used all over the world.  One of our Austrian customers requested support, and I'm sort of the guy."

The man fixed him with an icy stare.  "Sort of?  Either you, or you aren't, Damian.  Which is it?  If there's one thing I hate, it's uncertainty in one's self."

Damian froze.  What's up with this guy?  The uncomfortable silence stretched.

"I'm just joking with you!"  Sonny broke out into another smile.  "Geeze, lighten up.  Of course you're the guy.  They wouldn't send you if you're weren't!  Trust me, I work with clients all over the world.  It's big money to send someone across the pond."

Damain gave him a sheepish smile.  "Sorry.  I'm a little cranky this morning, I guess."

"Rough night last night?"  Sonny asked.

"You could say that."

"Was there a lady involved?"  His smile was conspiratorial this time.

Damian reddened.  He didn't really want to talk about it.  "So... ah... what's an Energy Broker do?"

Sonny laughed.  "I see how it is."  He winked.  "Your secret's safe with me."  A few more chuckles burst out of him before he returned to Damian's question.  "Futures.  I deal in futures, Damian."

Whatever that means.  Damian simply nodded.

I don't like this gentlemen, Inigo piped up.

There was a hairsbreadth of silence before Sonny filled it again.  "You know what else I hate, Damian?  Government agencies.  Who really knows what these guys are up to, am I right?  Think about it.  They could show up at your door, two suited strangers, come in, kill you in your sleep... who would know?  You don't live with anyone do you?"

Both the topic and question caught Damian off guard.  "N-no," he choked out.

Sonny went right on, unaffected.  "Didn't think so.  Me neither.  So you understand.  Whack!  Dead.  No one the wiser. They'll say it was a robbery gone wrong or something... if it even gets out.  All I'm saying, is who watches the watchers?  You feel me?"

Damian nodded, but Sonny was already on to the next topic.

"It's like the TSA.  They can just feel up whoever they want, whenever they want.  It's not that I mind profiling, mind you.  I get it.  I do.  But do I look like a terrorist to you?  Do I?  I mean, come on.  Go after those bearded freaks, not me.  You know what I mean?  Maybe squeeze in a hot chick or two.  But I don't want some dude's hands all over me.  I'm not a fag, y'know?  And don't even get me started about Homeland Defense..."

Damian sunk deeper into his seat, but Sonny was on a roll now.  Much like the plane.  He silently prayed that the man would tire himself out and fall asleep.

I'm not all that fond of him either, Inigo....
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

#ROW80 - Closing In

Another busy week, another scant squeeze-by of my goals.  I've kept my nose to the grindstone (which really hurts, btw), working hard to finish up my WIP.  If it goes like I think it'll go, it should be done at this time next week.  I may tack on an epilogue (I like epilogues, no matter what "they" say.  We'll see what my alphas think, too), but the main story is just about wrapped up.  It's a good spot to be in, and I'm excited to get it in the publishing pipeline.

Anyway, let's look at the goals:
  • Lesson Learned - See yesterday's post on endings.  They're sort of a Big Deal.
  • WIP Pages - 7/6.  It gets a bit easier near the end when you're writing the scenes you've been imagining for, oh, nigh on a year now.  Still, free time hardly cooperated.
  • Blogging - 3/3 on each.  I need to get up my serial fiction post here tomorrow, but I got the one on the other site done.  Work has been busy (and I usually try to squeeze in my posts there), so it was a bit of a struggle.
With the scenes I'm writing, it's not uncommon to sit down and have two to three pages flash by.  Really, that's been what's keeping me in the game, because otherwise I've had several days where I just couldn't sit down.  Heck, I'd probably be done right now if I hadn't been so busy, but such is life.  The good news is that, overall, my pace is consistent, even though I feel a bit spikier in my day to day habits.

The holidays are on the doorstep.  They're usually good for my WIPs, but bad for my blogging.  I can generally write on the road, using a laptop, but I don't always have Internet access.  Believe it or not, I rarely queue up posts.  Generally, what you see up is what I've written that day.  It's not really a rule or anything, it's just that I look at blogging as practice.  Practice that I enjoy, but practice nonetheless.  It forces me to sit down pretty much each day (I try to stagger this blog with my other one) and write for an audience.  

Audience may be too grandiose of a term, especially here.  There are only ~20 of you lurking at this point (the gaming blog boasts ~450 subs), so it's sort of like giving a presentation in a small office, compared to a large conference hall.  And I'm definitely not on the level of arena rock star, like some of the blogs I follow.  For me, the challenge is simply to be able to convey ideas and concepts effectively via written word.  That's what blogging helps you practice.  Small fanbase, big fanbase, it doesn't matter.  The point is to not trip over myself while sharing thoughts.

Also, it helps to have a community and be "out there."  Practice and support?  Yes, please.  This is why I love blogging.

I'll wrap this random reflection up with a look at my round 4 word counts (no goals here, just for the interested):

  • Project Fiction: 2,765
  • Since last check in: 6,588
  • Grand Total for Round 4: 21,278
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Make Your Ending Stick

If you're a writer and not listening to the Writing Excuses podcast, you probably should be. For a quick, 15 minute podcast (because we're in a hurry and they're not that smart) it packs a wonderful amount of useful advice in there.  It works well for me, because I am not a binge learner.  That is to say, I pick things up by doing them, slowly, over time.  I was never the type to cram before an exam, or procrastinate the term paper.  I'm a slow and steady kind of guy.  It's what works for me.

Episode 6.20 focuses on endings and is the latest one I've listened to (I believe 6.21 is out now, but I've not downloaded it to my phone yet).  Here's the description from their website:
Lou Anders joins Dan, Howard, and Mary for a discussion of endings. We begin by talking about how important it is to “stick your landing” at the end of the book, and then recap the Hollywood Formula to point out how endings work there. We get examples from Mary’s upcoming novel Glamour in Glass, Dan’s upcoming novel Partials, Howard’s work-in-progress short story, and Lou Anders’ award-worthy, dot-matrix printer.
Now, I'm a firm believer that, in writing, there are no hard and fast rules... only guidelines.  Still, as they say, you have to really know the rules before you can break them effectively.  I'm not huge on formulaic writing either, but there's some validity there.  Formulas are developed for a reason.

In the case of the Hollywood Formula, the point is to not only tell a good story, but to maximize the emotional impact of the ending.  The condensed, one sentence version of the theory is that the writer would do well to pack all of their resolutions as close together as possible in the ending.  The more you string it out, the softer the emotional blow.  (Side note: sometimes, softening the blow might be a good thing).

That makes a certain amount of sense to me.  As a reader, emotions definitely tend to snowball for me.  If it's a tearjerker, there have to be several emotional payoffs in a row before I start the waterworks.  If it's supposed to give me the warm fuzzies, the same thing is true there.  If it's a giant battle, having a swift turn and quick resolution can make me exclaim: "awesome" aloud (and then get strange looks from passerby).

The episode was especially timely for me, as I'm currently working on the ending of my WIP.  Now, the first goal is always to simply get the story down.  I can always go back later to tweak things.  But the advice has definitely caused me to keep an eye on when I'm planning to resolve a few things.  With some very minor forethought, I can shift them slightly closer together... and I think they'll have a stronger impact on the reader.  We'll see when my alphas get a hold of it, I guess.

*Crosses Fingers*
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Friday, October 21, 2011

Character Closeup: Naotaka

I'm going to keep going with this series until I run out of names. The tricky part now is that I'm going to start talking about characters that don't get introduced until later in the story.  Still, these folks are going to have bigger roles as the series goes on, so it seems appropriate to talk about them.  Thus, I'm going to try to be obtuse about who and what they are, but I will try to give a bit of their background.

Naotaka is very similar in appearance to Keisuke.  Michael notes that they could be biological brothers, when in reality they're simply sworn brothers.  Naotaka is bald, where Keisuke has hair, but they both sport the same fu-manchu mustache.  Naotaka also enjoys puffing on his pipe.

Nao's family and Keisuke's have been closely linked for ages.  While Keisuke's family has protected an ancient power, Nao's family has protected the protectors, so to speak.  The men in Naotaka's family are "gifted," or granted special powers as protectors when they come of age.

Nao grew up in Japan with Keisuke before they fled together after a close.  They were as close as brothers for many years, even marrying at the same time.  It was only when Keisuke left for America that he left Naotaka behind.  There are reasons there that I won't spoil.

Service is the cornerstone of Nao's existence.  He takes his sworn duty very seriously, treating Keisuke as both brother and master.  There was a time when Naotaka may have been one among many protectors, but as time progresses, ancient powers are forgotten, and fewer men are willing to give their lives and families to such a cause.  While Keisuke's ancestry would display more of a linear pattern, Naotaka represents a much larger group that has dwindled over the years to just him.

When his master leaves, Naotaka finds himself adrift.  He remains and does what he can to continue in his duty, though he must remain apart from his sworn brother.  He focuses on raising his kids, and keeping a safe refuge should Keisuke ever decide to return.  Though, the two men live a world apart, they still remain in contact with each other.  Keisuke sees Naotaka as his "safety valve" as he explores life in America.  Bad memories may keep him away, but Naotaka is still his brother.

Naotaka is bound to the spirit of a wolf, a wily pack animal that never gives up a fight.  As always, feel free to prod me for spoilers in the comments if you want more information.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

#ROW80 - Patience

Well, I got better as far as my sniffles go.  I'd like to say that the goals came easily as a result, but they didn't.  Life through the curve-ball.  This time, in the form of a car accident.  I was rear ended.  But it wasn't serious (don't you worry).  There's some minor body damage, but no injuries except for the other driver's pride.  That, and my time.  If you've ever been in one of these things, you know how much of a pain the whole insurance process can be.  Not time-friendly, to say the least.  Anyway, here's a look at the goals:

  • Lesson Learned - Patience is the name of this game.  Good stuff seems to happen of its own accord, in its own time.  Usually it seems to have no link to what you've actually be doing.  More on this in a bit.
  • WIP Pages - 6/6.  The number looks more mundane than the execution though.  I'm in the final throes of this novel, and so two consecutive days I had two page days.  Battle scenes tend to go quickly.  But then events conspired to take away three days of writing in a row.  I buckled down the last two of the week to eek out the goal.
  • Blogging - 3/3 on both blogs.  Need to sit down and write my monthly personal post.  I have a good Depression anecdote to relate there.  On the blogs, I may have used a bit of a cheap trick to squeeze in the goal this week.  I had a couple of short "filler" posts.  That is, they usually link another article and only include maybe a couple paragraphs discussing my thoughts.  It's more like a glorified comment, but a good change of pace every now and then.  In bonus points, I had a guest post go up this week.
Pretty solid work.  Not as easy as I'd hoped.  It was more like a burst of creativity that was snuffed by life, and then leveled back out into the usual slow burn.  Bursts are nice when they happen, though I wish I could have capitalized on it to get through this ending.  

I need to pay attention to my lesson, though.  Patience.  Totally not one of my virtues.  Yet completely key to this whole indie author thing.  So many of the successful indies are slow to take off, and then BAM, lightning strikes.  In reality, you could probably trace it to small steps of success, and I've had a lot of those these last few weeks.  

I went up with a favorable review on one book blog recent, and I have another one coming.  Also, my mother informed me last night that one of the English teachers at her school is reviewing my book to see if it is "appropriate" enough to add into their collection at school.  I don't see why not.  I purposefully strive to keep things mostly PG-13 in my stories.  My theory is that vulgarity needs to be used sparingly (in most genres) to remain effective.  Otherwise, you're just being crass (and a poor writer, shock jock style).

In any case, these are all really great steps.  And it takes time for word of mouth to percolate.  You go several weeks without anything "happening," only to find out that it really has been.

Patience.  This is not a sprint, it's a marathon.  Writing is my dream career.  Not a short, 6 month contract job, but a career.  Something that I want to do for the next 30+ years.  I took me about 10 years to get to the point where I could write something worth a fig, and even now I have plenty to learn... Patience.  And perseverance.  You only fail when you stop learning.

We'll end with a look at the word counts:

  • Project Fiction: 2,272
  • Since last check in: 5,544
  • Grand Total for Round 4: 14,690
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Quite the Maid

Damian couldn't help but smile on his way back to his room.  His mind spun, but whether it was from the wine or the company, he didn't care.  Surely some of both.

Genny had left him with a simple, chaste kiss on the cheek.  He could still feel it burning there.  A hand came up to rub the spot, but Damian kept it from completing its mission.  He didn't want to ruin the feeling.

He got all the way to the door to his room before reality grabbed at his ankles and yanked him back down from the clouds.  Bloody memories returned, pooling before his eyes as his hand hovered above the nob.  Damian could picture the scene that waited behind the door.  What am I going to do?

You could pray, Inigo suggested.

Damian failed to see how that would help.  The police would still be called.  He would still be arrested for murder.

It was self-defense, Inigo reminded him.  You were protecting life by taking it.  Besides, those men were unclean, if you will recall.

Damian did recall.  How could he forget?  The dark eyes with little tongues of flame burning in them, staring at him as they coldly sought his demise.  The card key shook in his hand as he tried to open the door.  Damian took a deep breath and calmed himself.  Think happy thoughts, he ordered his brain.  Think about Genny.

An angel, Inigo agreed.

Her smile fortified Damian.  Her eyes banished those of the strange men.  But even her body couldn't exorcise the memory of the blood.  Damian opened the door sick with dread.

The room was a mess.  Shards of glass glittered on the floor.  Blankets lay in bunched piles on the floor.  The innards of one of the pillows was strew across the bare bed.  A single light from the far corner of the room illuminated the scene.

Damian frowned and turned on the rest of the lights.  He turned and stuck his head back out into the hallway, craning up to catch a view of the room number.  Then, he shut the door and latched it closed.  He even flipped the metal bar across the knob that would keep the door from being opened if someone were able to bypass the lock.

He stood with his back to it for a moment, breathing deep.  How could this be?  There was no blood.  No bodies.  Sure, the room looked as if a fight had occurred, or perhaps a rambunctious celebration, but all evidence of death was simply... gone.

Perhaps the maid has come, he thought.

And cleaned up the bodies?  The blood?  Inigo replied.  You would be in chains now, if that were the case.

Handcuffs... or jail, Inigo.  They don't really use chains anymore.

He walked forward and placed a hand on the carpet.  It was dry.  He sniffed the air.  It was clean.  No stink of cleaning solution.

A numbness settled deep inside of Damian.  He wasn't sure which was more powerful, the sense of relief or bewilderment.  He glanced at the clock.  It blinked back 1:35 AM.

The power must have gone out, Damian reasoned.  He pulled out his cell phone and thumbed it open.  It read a steady half-past ten.  Exhaustion broke over him like a wave.  For the first time, he realized how tired he was.  He took a long look at the ruined hotel room.  Then, he walked over to the bed, brushed it off, and flopped down.

"I'll clean it in the morning," he promised the pillow.
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Monday, October 17, 2011

I'm A Guest!

I mentioned fellow author Katie Salidas's Vampire Awareness Month series going on in October. I also mentioned that I prepared a guest post for it. I wanted to let y'all know that it's up today. Stop by if you get a chance and leave a comment.  It's a fun little article.  I'll be lurking over there and replying all day. Check out some of the other articles as well.

For those of you gobbling up my RSS feed, I'll probably re-post the article sometime later this week (likely Friday) for all and sundry.
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

#ROW80 - Sniffling In

Fist check-in for Round 4. Start off strong, they say. I feel more like I'm limping in. It's funny how sometimes meeting your goals feels easy, and other weeks you had to fight tooth and nail. This past week was the latter. I battled illness and extra surprise bits of work to come out, I think, in good shape. Here's a look at the goals:
  • Lesson Learned - Auto-save is a writer's best friend.  I had two different computers spontaneously restart on me in the past week... in the middle of two separate writing projects.  I generally do a good job of saving as I go, but sometimes the words fly faster than the mouse to the disk icon.  Fortunately, there is auto-save.  Don't leave home without it.  Even so, the lesson here is to be diligent in saving.  There is nothing more frustrating than trying to re-bottle lightning.
  • WIP Pages - 6/6.  Just barely.  I slept a ton this weekend and got no writing done, trying to shake my cruds.  Fortunately, I had a two page day earlier in the week, and then I pushed through on Monday and Tuesday.  I expect to be done with the MS before Halloween.  Then we'll switch to editing goals.
  • Blogging - This posts makes 3/3 here, and I hit 3/3 on my other blog.  I had to buckle down early this week here as well, squeezing out what were probably short, quicker posts than I usually write.  Still, the purpose of this goal is to force myself to practice.  And it's great practice to try to communicate an idea small time budget.  Makes you use your words efficiently.  Or just suck.  You decide :-).
But I hit the goals!  This past week was a battle.  Next week will likely be a snooze.  Isn't that how it goes?  You buckle down, work your tail off, and then you come up for air a week later and realize you're ahead.  It's almost magical.  I always have a miniature moment of "WTF did I forget to to do."  Because if you experience the legend known only as Free Time, you know how hard it is to trust and believe in.  A fickle friend, says I.

I have some great ideas for my fiction thread on here.  Which reminds me, I need to go make notes so I remember the ideas.  Discovery writing is fun like that.  Ideas fall like ripe apples... when they're damn good and ready and not a moment before.  Surprise!  Newton: "Oh, so that's gravity... I should include that in my story."  

I'm pretty much out of characters that I can do a closeup on for my first novel without ruining things.  I purposefully kept the cast pretty small too, as it was my debut effort.  I didn't want to get too large in scope and fall flat on my face.  I'm debating about beginning to do closeups for my upcoming novel.  I think I may start when the MS is done.  Should give you a sneak peek as to what is coming, and may generate some excitement.  On the other hand, I'm hesitant to go public with anything before it's been properly edited.  You never know what you might change.  So we'll see.  It depends on how confident I'm feeling.

As always, I'll wrap this with a look at the word counts:
  • Project Fiction: 2,283
  • Since last check in (two days ago): 5,511
  • Grand Total for Round 4: 9,146
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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Character Closeup: Keisuke

Keisuke Nakatomi is the adoptive father of Kiara. A Japanese transplant, Keisuke took Kiara in when she was left on his doorstep as a baby. The birthmark that Kiara bears on her eye reminded him of the daughter.  We find out more about his past later on in the book.

The best image I can give of Keisuke is refer you to Pat Morita in the Karate Kid.  Although I do try to give him a bit longer of a mustache.  I think he's pretty similar in mannerisms as well.  Kiara calls him KeiKei (pronounced like Kay-Kay) as a term of endearment.  She is well aware that she is adopted, though there is no lack of love in the small family.

Keisuke's birth name is Nakatomi Keisuke, though he adopted a westernized form of his name when he went into business.  Initially, he had run a martial arts studio, but after finding Kiara, he "retired."  From then on, he ran a smaller sushi shop.  He actually shares a lot in common with Michael, as his nature forces him toward isolation, but he still desires human contact.  He can't completely become a hermit, because it's not who he is.

I borrowed the Nakatomi name from one of the most influential clans in Classical Japan.  Since Keisuke is supposed to be the descendant of famous samurai, it fit.  Like I mentioned before, I wrote this book initially for my wife.  Since she's a big fan of Asian culture, and Japanese cartoons in particular, samurai were an easy choice.  Plus, what's not to like about samurai?  It was a research topic I could get into, as I've always enjoyed swordplay.

A lot of the legends tell how a samurai and his blade are closely linked, in a spiritual sense.  I took this idea and ran with it when conceiving the Spirit Binder.  What if they really were bound to their weapons somehow?  What would that power be like?  Why would it exist?

Keisuke is the embodiment of a hero in hiding.  A master in unassuming form.  Yet, he's also very human.  He's suffered loss in the past, and that loss colors his decisions.  At what point does one grow tired of fighting?  When do you draw the line and opt to simply save others from harm, even if it makes you more vulnerable?  What does family mean?  There are a lot of big questions in Keisuke.

I'm not going to share any of the answers here, but as always, feel free to hit me up in comments and I'll be less obtuse.  Click through at your own peril!
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Monday, October 10, 2011

Ramble On

He cracked the door and poked his head out, much like a turtle. Radiant and resplendent, Genny hovered just beyond the door, a concerned look furrowing her dark eyebrows.  Damian wanted to reach out and smooth them.

"Uh, hi?" he tried.

The glow around her seemed to diminish when her dark eyes lit upon him.  Why is there a glow? his mind questioned, but she banished rational thought.  Likely, he was still reeling from his recent encounter, and needed to calm the hell down.  His mind had done stranger things.

Don't let her in, Inigo reminded.

Duh, Damian answered.

As if in compensation for the fading brilliance, her smile put in an appearance.  "Am I interrupting?" she asked.

"Ah..." Damian fumbled.

He pulled his head back in and looked at the bloody mess, then resumed his impression of a terrapin.  Genny raised an eyebrow.  He quickly slithered out of the room and held the knob near to close behind his back.  She backed up a step to allow him space in the narrow hotel hallway.

"Was just going to, um, get some dinner," he said.  As soon as it was out, he remember that he'd cancelled their date for the evening.  Or at least he'd tried to.  "Alone," he added quickly.  "I mean, they sent me to this work thing.  Last second notice.  You know how it is.  Or do you?  I don't know.  Probably wouldn't happen where you work.  I mean the bar is a nice place and all - I like it - but I doubt they send you out to customers.  Mostly they'd come in, I should think.  Did you get my message?"

He realized he was breathing heavily.

Also, he was dressed poorly.  He had on the same T-shirt he'd worn on the drive there.  The shirt had a picture of the Kool-Aid man on it and read: Oh Yeah!  There'd been no time to change.  Please God let there be no blood spatters, he prayed.  He looked down and found only Kool-Aid.  He returned a thanks for that.  And for pants.  His jeans were still clean, and - more importantly - on.

Genny giggled.  "You look fine," she laid warm hand on his arm, sending a jolt of electricity up his arm that paralyzed his movements.  "And, yes, I got your message," she added.

He let his tingling brain process that.  "Then why are you here?" he blurted.  He slapped a hand to his mouth.

She giggled again, bless her.

Looks like she is as crazy as you are, Inigo chimed in.  If she had any sense, she would be running.  Not laughing.

Shut up, Inigo.

"I'm sorry, Damian."  Damian's heart fell with her eyes.  "I just thought, well, maybe we could still have dinner even if the movie was out of the question?  If not, I completely understand.  It was sort of a crazy impulse, you know?  And I wouldn't normally do something like this, but just thought that, well, it'd be nice."

Damian stared.  She was the one rambling now.  To him.  Did he make her feel uncomfortable?

Her big, brown eyes rose to meet his.  In them, he saw what his mind refused to process.  Vulnerability.  How could he say no to her?

He forced himself to start breathing again.  Normally.  "Dinner.  Sure.  Of course.  I didn't even think- I certainly didn't mean to- I mean, I'd love to."  The door clicked behind him as he closed it the rest of the way.

"Wonderful," she said, beaming.
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

#ROW80 - Rock the ROW

There's a party going down on Twitter, right now, at the #ROW80 hashtag.  Seriously.  Lot of crazy ROWers.  Sadly, I'm at work, so my Twitter abilities are somewhat limited.  Still, I did see ACDC mentioned.  And there are pictures.  Pictures can be fun.  Just keep 'em classy.  (I'm looking at you, random politicians and/or professional athletes.  Nah, jk.  But srsly: classy.)

Anyway, today is the first check in of the new round.  I threw my goals out there on Monday, so let's take a quick look at how I'm starting off:
  • Lesson Learned - Sometimes, you just need to draw the setting.  I was writing a fight scene in a prison... yep, needed a floor plan.  Made the scene so much easier to write.
  • WIP Pages - 2/2.  Did 'em Monday and Tuesday.  Good start.  'Course, I'm coming down with something, so could get rougher as the week goes on.  Side note: I also sent a little side project off to an editor-friend.  It's a contest entry for some fan fic that goes with my gaming stuff.  I write the fan fic for fun anyway, so why not.
  • Blogging - This actually makes three here in as many days.  Usually, I have to tap into the previous week, but between ROW80 and Vampire Awareness Month, I had some things to talk about.  Got two in on my other blog as well.  As it's a new month, gotta hit up the personal blog sometime soon, too.  Plenty of time for that though.
A great start so far.  Now I just need to go around and be social.  So many blogs!  It's great to see the enthusiasm kicked back up for this round.  Fall always tends to be a bit contest-heavy, so it's nice to see ROW80 keepin' it real.

And the word count for the first three days?  I don't have any word count goals, but I like to share it.  Think of it as sort of my proof that setting realistic goals other than word counts can still get you there.  Here's the look:
  • Project Fiction: 915
  • Since last check in (two days ago): 3,635
  • Grand Total for Round 4: 3,635
Like I said, a great start.

I also have September sales numbers.  I like to post them in these, since I think they mostly interest the writing crowd.  Also, it can be comforting to know you're not alone (or that you're completely destroying me in copies sold!).

I say the above parenthetical because September was a crappy month for sales.  I popped in with a paltry six (2 Kindle, 2 B&N, 2 Other).  Still, I want to point out two things.  First of all, that's six more sales than if I'd never put my story out there.  I'm up to 56 overall (in three months), which is really pretty awesome.  That 56 people will likely have read my story by the end of the year is pretty neat.  Especially since I'm basically doing the bare minimum for promotion (trying to focus on writing) and relying on word of mouth.

Second, while raw numbers may get me down or find me jealous... this is not a get-rich-quick scheme.  I don't want it to be.  That would take away some of the pleasure of success if it were just handed over.  It would feel cheap.  I feel good about every one of those sales.  They've come from hard work and connecting with other people.  I don't feel like I've had to wheedle anyone into buying my book.  It has been people who are genuinely interested, and I'm thankful for that and for each reader.  I want to do this the "right" way (if there is one, or at the very least "my" way).  

It can be easy to get frustrated, but everyone's path is going to be different.  I've noticed a change in my own buying habits as a result of this.  I pay more attention to spending money as a "vote" or in support of an idea. In gaming, in reading, wherever.  It feels good to spend money on something you enjoy, an idea or person you're behind.  It makes purchases seem less like a cold transaction and more like a contribution to a cause.  Sure, this doesn't work for everything (I mean, deodorant is deodorant), but there's a silver lining there.

Anyway, that's enough rambling for now.  I'm excited for the holiday season, and I need to keep my nose to the grindstone and get this other book out.  I can't wait to share it.

Before I leave, I'll drop a question on you.  As you may know, dear reader, ROW80 has a great community.  I'm thankful for it.  That's sort of why I ask this, because I would be there are a lot of you that feel the same.  You ever take a look at all the people out there, braving this new ebook world, and think "Holy cow, there's so many.  How will I ever succeed?"  Don't get me wrong, I feel like we're all in this together; we're ROWing in the same boat.  I don't want any other authors to go away or anything.  After all, as a reader I've never felt like I had to stick with a finite number of authors.  Y'all simply can't write as fast as I can read (even with writing).

But it's daunting, sometimes, isn't it?  To dream this dream we share?  To be one of so many?

The good news: The pie is growing.  With e-readers, more people are buying more books.  The boat is getting bigger.  See you on the oars!
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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Vampire Awareness Month

This month is a lot of things. From serious causes, to fun Holidays, there's plenty of interesting stuff to go around. So what's one more, right? Well, if that one more is Vampires... count me in.

Over at Katie Salidas's blog, she's hosting a Vampire Awareness Month Blog Fest. All month she'll be putting up guest posts that discuss anything and everything with to do with fangs. Here's the schedule. You'll notice Yours Truly is on there for the 17th. I'll be over there chatting it up those days, talking about my favorite Vamps, so feel free to pop in. I had a lot of fun writing the article, and hopefully it'll generate some good discussion. I'll probably re-post the article on here several days after it debuts, just to make sure y'all see it. 

Anyway, if like geeking out about your favorite bloodsuckers like I do, its definitely worth checking out.
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Monday, October 3, 2011

ROW80: Round 4 Goals

Of course I'll be participating in the next Round of Words in 80 days. Best challenge on the net, I'm telling you true! What's not to love?  Customized goals.  Wonderful community.  We've got it all folks.  And you don't need to be an author or anything to join.  Writers of all kinds are welcomed.  The point of the challenge is really to make writing a part of your daily life.  A part of the routine and grind, not a one-off event.

Last round I did pretty well.  More so than nailing my goals more often than not, I made some good friends.  I'll be lurking around their blogs in the coming weeks.

This round, my goals will be a little different.  In the larger picture, I'm nearing the end of the first draft of my Work In Progress.  I think a word goal is easier when you've got an active WIP.  When you go into editing mode, it gets a bit harder to quantify.  My ultimate goal is to get that book launched in the next 80 days.  It's going to be a challenge, and somewhat reliant on how quick the things I outsource get completed, but I think it's do-able.

In addition to that, I'd like to keep blogging regularly.  Generally, this means 3 posts a week on each of my blogs, plus one a month on my personal journal/blog.  This one is a pretty solid goal that varies in difficulty based on the week.

Finally, I'd like to keep up with my lessons learned.  My mantra here at On The Job Writing is to learn at least one lesson every week.  I've embraced being a burgeoning author, and have made it my goal to simply learn and get better each week.  It's an acknowledgement that even Hemingway didn't start off as Hemingway.  (Not that I'm shooting for American Classic status.  I'll take just being able to write for a living).  In my opinion, the best way to succeed at anything is to simply keep learning about it.  If you never stop learning, you're never done trying.

I typically check in on Wednesdays (weekends tend to be time spent away from the Internet), thus I like to make my goals weekly.  Here's the plan for each week in round 4:
  • Lesson Learned - I always try to start off with something I learned during the past week.
  • 1 page or 1 hour of editing per day, 6 days a week - So long as I need to write, my writing goal remains at least a page a day.  When I finish drafting, I'll need to make sure I spend a good chunk of time editing.  Some pages are faster than others, so a time goal seemed fitting.  Also, if I'm waiting on others to get back to me on edits, I may use this time to lay the foundation for other projects (outlining, research, etc).  So this one is a bit flexible.  Also, I like to give myself on "day off" each week.
  • 3 blog posts per blog, and 1 personal post a month.  Same as last round, I'll keep my blogging up.  ROW80 check-ins count.  If you're curious, my other blog is a gaming blog.
Those three.  It's a slight variation of what I did last round, and that worked well for me.  The difference here is that I don't think I'll be in drafting mode for this whole round.  Thus, I'll need to make sure I weave editing into my life just as well as I did writing.  They're really two sides of the same coin.

After my check-ins, I generally like to post a cumulative word count.  I'm not really a big believer in word counts, as it encourages bloated writing in my opinion.  I like to be efficient in my prose.  Incidentally, this is why I've never done NaNo.  I simply labor too long on each page to ever get to 50k in a month.  It makes my editing process quite a bit quicker, but it's not really conducive to racking up the words.  Still, curiosity finds me publishing my word counts.  Also, I'd like to think it's a bit inspirational, since I really am writing at a turtle's pace... but it adds up!  Anyway, I'll end this with a look at my count last round:
  • Grand Total for the challenge: 69,375
  • Or 867 words per day of the challenge
A turtle's pace, but we all know who beat the hare!  :-)
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