Breaking the Author – Week Four

It’s January 31st, 2016. This post is coming to you via scheduler, as I will be attending PAX South this weekend and having no cares in the world for the craft of writing! Time to get my game on.

*Ahem* A month gone and what do I have to show for it? Let’s find out!

The goals I hoped to achieve this week are as follows:

  1. Maintain blog. – Completed.
  2. Complete Line Edits on Shapes 1 – 25% complete.
  3. Another round of edits on Shibboleth and Damp Summer Nights, the short stories I’ve been tinkering with – Completed.
  4. Begin looking at cover artists for Shapes 1 – Not started.

Continue reading

Media Medley – January 2016

It’s the last Thursday of the month, and this year as I mentioned before I will be doing something a little different with my month-end Thursday posts. Instead of talking about just one piece of media that inspired me throughout the month, I will be breaking down all the movies, TV shows, books, comics, games, and whatever else I consumed during the previous month, talking about each one briefly and what I liked or disliked about it, with a single recommendation at the end.

So let’s jump right into this for January 2016! Continue reading

Breaking the Author – Week Three

Third week tucked into my belt for this year’s authorial challenge, Breaking the Author!

I was sick for most of this week, and unlike last year when I was sick, I didn’t force myself to complete daily goals to the detriment of my health. So while I had a couple extra things early in the week I was hoping to get around to, I just didn’t have the health for it this week.

The goals I wanted to achieve were thus:

  1. Finish first-pass edits on Shapes 1. – Completed this Tuesday night.
  2. Plot out Shapes 2 with a rough outline. – Completed this Friday night.
  3. Start line edits on Shapes 1. – Did not even begin this.
  4. Edit “Shibboleth” and “Damp Summer Nights” short stories. Did not even attempt.
  5. Maintain blog. – Completed.

So I finished 3 of my 5 goals this week, but I don’t feel too down about it.  Continue reading

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

It’s Thursday and I want to talk about a particular experience I had over the last month or so that is relevant to my current editing goals.

In December of last year I was doing my best to hit my daily goal of words written, because I had a novel I wanted to finish and a year of writing to smash to pieces. I was successful at both of those, but right there in the middle of it all I had some random inspiration and wrote a short story.

I haven’t posted the short story on the blog, nor have I submitted it anywhere for publication consideration yet. Part of that is that the story isn’t ready yet. Continue reading

Breaking the Author – Week Two

I’ve completed the second week of this year’s challenge, Breaking the Author, and now you get to see me brag about it a bit!

This week’s goals mostly centered around the shapeshifter novella. I edited roughly 50 pages this week, and I have another 25 or so to go for a completed first pass on edits. The first pass is mostly correcting inconsistencies and looking for things that are obviously wrong or that I knew I was going to change already. After the major revisions to story and character are complete, I will delve deeper into a line edit and polish up the prose and dialogue as best I can, followed by a check for spelling, grammar, syntax, etc. The final pass will consist of a live reading in which I will be correcting anything that doesn’t sound good when I read it aloud. Continue reading

Carving Your Own Bones

It’s Thursday, time to jam!

So I haven’t talked about it too officially yet, but the way I plan to run my Thursday posts is a little different than last year. For 1K a Day I did Motivationals and mini-reviews. This year I won’t be doing many Motivationals, instead filling the Thursday slot with more craft-centric posts. The various facets of being an author that perhaps you don’t think about as often.

Editing, Formatting, Cover Art, Line Edits, Proofing, Blog Tours, Conventions, Book Signings, Self-Publishing, Traditional Publishing, Vanity Publishing, Query Letters, Cover Pages, Frontmatter, Backmatter. The list goes on. To be an independent author means to have a general knowledge of all these things and more because self-publishing is an expensive endeavor if you have to pay for every non-writing task that you aren’t very good at. What that will result in is a guy somewhat like me, who knows just enough about all the various pieces of getting your book into the hands of readers so that it actually gets into the hands of readers in a format and professional-ish manner that people are willing to accept. Continue reading

Breaking the Author – Week One

It’s the end of the first full week of 2016, which means it is time for my Week One update!

I don’t have a daily update or anything fancy like I did last year, so instead of giving you a day-by-day breakdown of how much I wrote or edited or whatever, you’ll get a quick rundown of what I’ve been working on during the week and then I’ll update my Goals with completions marked as strikethroughs! Continue reading

So You Want To Submit A Story

First Thursday post of the new year and I’m gonna hop right in with a little bit of a look into the submissions process for short stories.

It’s different than it used to be. Used to be you had to print up copies of your stories and send them in to the very few publications that did their trade in short stories, which costs paper, ink, envelopes, return envelopes, stamps. It was a whole thing.

And some of the reputable magazines and journals out there still require snail mail submissions. I understand some of the reasons why they do it. Chief among them is that if the effort required to submit your story is greater than clicking a few buttons on a website and attaching a file, far fewer people will go to the trouble of actually submitting stories to you. If there’s a significant time and money investment, you automatically raise the caliber of the work that is submitted to you. Continue reading

1K a Day Wrapup and 2016 Challenge – “Breaking the Author”

Welcome back to Panning For Clouds! After a brief weekend hiatus of not writing or doing a single thing author-related, I have returned with final thoughts on my year of writing 1000 words a day, every day of 2015, and then we’ll jump right into the goals I have set for 2016!

1K a Day Wrapup

So I wrote 472k words last year. Purely fiction.

Gridfall was 175k. I will be editing that one and submitting it for publication.

Savage Duty was 118k. I will be editing that one and self-publishing it to conclude the trilogy for Shades of the Past, the first set of stories in my sci-fi series.

Avalon Circle was 105k? Something close to that. I will be editing that and submitting it for publication.

Another 40k or so was spent on the two novellas, Time Travel Twins and Shape of Family. Both of which I will be self-publishing before the year is out. Shape is on the blog, but I will be pulling it soon for publication.

The remaining 30-ish-k was spent on short fiction and writing games. Some of those will be submitted for publication, some will eventually find their way to the blog, and still others may never see the light of day.

I wrote exactly 1000 words more than one day this year, scraping bare minimum just to get by. I also wrote over 6k words once, and over 5k twice, plus multiple 4k days.

I don’t know if I have anything that’s truly publishable at the end of the year of writing. I think I do, but I also know I have a lot of work to do first to get any of it to a submittable state.

I learned a few very valuable lessons throughout the year that I would like to share:

  1. Habit is the single best thing you can do for yourself. For several days after the year was over I felt antsy because I wasn’t writing. It’s mostly gone now, but the feeling was there. I’ll have to recapture the writing bug later this year when I go to write another novella or novel, but do yourself a favor and establish a habit of writing. Even if it’s only one day a week, or four, or all seven.I actually don’t recommend seven…
  2. Give yourself days off. This is critical. If nothing else, you likely have many things going on in your life that draw your attention, and to force yourself to write every. single. day. is a nightmare. I don’t regret it one bit but I will never do it again. Give yourself time to rest and recover.
  3. Take breaks from the big writing endeavor. This may not be for everyone, but when I found I was starting to feel a little writer’s fatigue because I had been working on the same story for 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, I would take little sidetracks. Write small stories, or play writing games, or just chase another story for a day or two. If you aren’t going to take days off, this may be your best friend, because switching gears is close to not working at all.
  4. Everybody wants you to do well. Everybody wants to hear that you’re getting it done. Even if there are people out there waiting for you to fail, you can keep proving their pessimism wrong. Not everybody wants to talk writer craft with you, but at least everyone who is your friend or family or even general acquaintance loves to hear that you’re doing well at something you prize. It’s not just humble-bragging, it’s not just attention-seeking. People want to see you succeed. You shouldn’t be afraid to talk about your success.
  5. Don’t constrain yourself to just one type of writing, or just one genre. You might have a better chance of getting published if you exclusively write a particular genre of story, but if you’re anything like me, you love all kinds of stories and don’t want to be constrained to just one genre. The freedom you will grant yourself by a super writing habit is that you are being prolific as hell, which lets you write more stories, which lets you explore more while still accomplishing your primary goals.
  6. Don’t stop reading books, or playing games, or watching movies or TV, or reading comics, or whatever it is you unwind and flex your entertainment muscles with. Or your critical muscles. Or your creative muscles. You’ve probably heard it before, but it’s true and I will repeat it. You will be a better creator if you stay active in the kinds of things you want to create, whether it’s art, or literature, or video games, or card games, or whittling, or ice sculpting. Keep on reading.

I could probably talk for a good long while about my experience with writing 1000 words a day, but I don’t want to waste everyone’s time. You know me, you know what I was doing, and I was successful. I have inspired people. I have received gifts for being successful. One person I know is embarking on the 1K a Day challenge for 2016. All the luck and perseverance to you!

But what I can’t do is just stop and rest on my laurels. I’m not actively writing fiction at this moment, but I have plans for 2016 and I want to push myself as an author, to submit stories, to write more, to edit well, to offer critiques and beta reading for my fellow wordchasers.

Welcome to 2016, readers.


Breaking the Author
2016 Author Challenge

So this year’s challenge is called “Breaking the Author”. What is that, you ask? Well, in short, it’s my pithy attempt to include many diverse goals into this year’s challenge, to break the barrier on what it means to be an author to me. I want to write, I want to edit, I want to submit. I want to do it all and I will break it down for you as I make the attempt.

So because I learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of doing in a year, I have reorganized my schedule from an author’s perspective. No longer will I work every day day towards a singular goal. I will take days off. I plan to take weekends off entirely, to regain that restful state I have been missing for so long.

So the goals I have set for myself in 2016 are:

1. Edit the three novels and two novellas from last year.
2. Self-publish one of the novels and both novellas.
3. Submit other two novels for regular publishing consideration.
4. Continue a weekly Editorial and Update schedule on the blog for this year’s challenge.
5. Get started back up on a weekly novel or novella posting on the blog.
6. Submit a short story a month.
7. Write at least one short/flash story a month.
8. Write the next part of the Shapeshifter novella series.
9. Write the first novel of the new trilogy in the Shades series.
10. Transcribe the partially-completed coming-of-age fantasy story that only exists in notebooks. Finish the novel.

That’s a lot of work, there. Number 1 specifically I expect will take a good four or five months to get through it all. But the others are smaller until the last two.

I can keep submitting and blogging and posting novella on the blog. I did it last year, I can do it again with minimal trouble.

I can write and submit short stories more commonly without too much hassle.

Writing another novel may be tough this year, but I know I can do it. I wrote three last year and I know I can write one this year.

That last one may be the hardest. My handwriting is pretty much the worst and for whatever reason I have never transcribed approximately 80k worth of words in notebooks to digital. My fear is that I will lose it all in an accident. So I will transcribe and then finish that one. I will submit that one for publishing consideration next year.

So with all that said, I haven’t talked about what THIS week’s goals are. There is no hard path I intend to follow. I will tackle the goals as I can, completing them as I am able.

This week I will be blogging twice. I will be editing a short story to submit to an anthology. I will begin editing Shape of Family. If I finish Shape, I will begin the process of getting it ready for Kindle, which also means I must get it taken down from the blog.

Then I will rest. And I will tackle the following week with vim, vigor, and maybe vivacity.


The hashtag for the year is #breakingauthor, so keep following me on Facebook and Twitter, and if I continue to inspire you to chase your own goals as a writer, all the better!

And always remember to write the hell on!