First, I am going by the Chinese calendar this year. 2013 was the Year of the Snake -- a wriggly, trickster of a year. And the Year of the Snake is not over until January 31.
January of this year is a liminal zone for me. It's all about prepparing for the next phase of my life/career -- to begin with the Year of the Fire Horse on January 31.
Those preparations started last summer, really. I don't really want to look back any further than that: I glanced at my journal, and I just do not want to revisit last spring. Last spring was a nightmare. And then summer was just too hot to get work done.
However, last summer I got the chance to look at my own patterns and cycles and start getting the ball rolling. By fall I set myself on a couple of paths that will continue into next year:
My "Chasing Enthusiasm" project has worked pretty well, but as predicted, it doesn't work well in the area of getting to the finish line.
(Short review: In looking over all my work, I discovered that self-discipline accounted for very very little of my productivity over my lifetime. The vast majority of my work was accomplished when I was being flightly and undisciplined. So I decided to be flighy and undisciplined for the rest of the year.)
The two big successes of the Enthusiasm Project were: 1.) Art work - I'm starting to make some cash at covers that I do spontaneously, for instance - and 2.) The Story Game, which may or may not become a salable project in itself, but it is piling up some interesting stories to be written. (More on that below.)
I am going to continue with a modified version of Chasing Enthusiasm for a while, but I'm going to temper it by putting a game-like goal into my day. I will likely rejoin ROW80 - which means update posts on Wednesdays and Sundays again -- and the goal will be measured in 10 minute writing sprints.
Four 10-minute writing bouts a day, no matter what else I'm doing. Ten minute bouts or challenges are fun to do, like an exercise or game. And I expect to do more than four any days that I don't have too much else on my plate.
The Story Game Stories
My original purpose for The Story Game, for those who haven't been following closely, was to create consistent "pulp" stories and write them quickly. However, it was a very hot summer, and I found the game part more interesting than the writing part. This fall, however, when it cooled off and I got serious about the game, I found myself getting serious about the stories too. I have returned to my original plan:
I will be writing these under a pen name -- probably Vera Avrila or something similar. (I like the typographical possiblities of As and Vs.) I am doing this not because the stories will be so terribly different than what I write under my own name, but rather because, unlike my regular, they will be consistent in terms of genre, tone and length.
Another reason I want to write them under a pen name is because I want to experiment with a pricing structure that will be different from the books under my own name.
I don't know if this will be a money-making enterprise. I considered writing popular genres (such as smut). I even created an anoymous publisher entity for it, just in case it worked out... but it didn't work out. Luckily, I was smart enough to create an identity that was flexible. The branding was focused on short and romantic. Therefore I could use it for romantic suspsense novellas. (However, I'm not going to unveil it until I decide for certain.)
Another reason it might not be a great money-making enterprise: I will be bucking the trend toward more and more erotic content. While my books will not be "sweet," they will meet the standards of The Production Code for the most part. They will involve adult concepts, and may involve limited use of adult language, but for the most part if you didn't see it in a Hollywood pot-boiler such as Mildred Pierce, you're not likely to see it in my Vera Avrila books.
We'll see how that swings with the kids today.
I've got three books in development on that, and I'm not going to publish any of them until all three are fully drafted. Then I'll publish them a month apart. I hope to start in March.
The Serial -- Plink, Alex and The Awarshi Contingent
The Perils of Plink have been postponed again mainly because the world is developing on me and I have some bigger plans. Plink may even have to wait until I get some other stories in the series done. That particular muse has a lot to handle, so I'm letting her do it however she wants. She wants me to do the slower stories -- the more children's story type stores -- first. We'll see. (More about that in the blog. There are some interesting literary/creative subjects in there.)
Mick and Casey
You may or may not see some Mick and Casey shorts come up soon -- but I have decided to go back to submitting them to commercial magazines before self-publishing them. So I can't predict when you'll next see some stories from them. Sometime this year, but probably not until later.
Starling and Marquette (i.e. "The Man Who....")
This is actually the series that is burning to get out. The books, however, have complications that make it a slow process. I think, however, that The Story Game is giving me some tools to move this forward better and faster. I hope to move this series along faster once I get the Game Stories out of the way.
Non-fiction and The Game Itself
I'd like to have the Situation Game tested and tweaked to sell as an ebook and workbook sometime around summer. I don't know if the "plot game" section will be a part of this, or if I'll sell them as smaller modular "ebooklets." Depends on what develops.
Miscellaneous Short Fiction
I have an urge to return to writing short fiction and submitting it to magazines as well as self-publishing. The Ride to Save King had some interesting things happening in the stats when it went free. It did much better than my other free books. I wonder about a budding children's market -- especially for chapter books and narrative shorts. I used to write children's stories mainly. It might be time to start again.
I also want to do more mystery short fiction again.
Summer of Paper
Last year the heat wiped me out of creative work. So this year, I am planning for that. I will be doing layout for paper copies of all of my books this summer, for release in late summer and early fall.
I should also mention that things are going well on the cover art front. I'm making a nice bit of extra cash and enjoying what I do.
But Out of All Of That...My Goals.
For now, those four 10-minute writing sprints a day will focus on this:
*A Mick and Casey Christmas story to be submitted to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine by the end of January. (Six-gun Santa)
*Three Game Stories (In Flight; Hours of Need; Covet Thy Neighbor) to be at least drafted by the end of March.
I think I can actually do much better, because the sprints are fun and I can do 8-10 in an evening if I watch out for RSIs.
On Friday, we'll start in talking about plot and how we can work that into The Story Game. And on Monday I may take an "Artisan Writers" look at all the predictions for next year in Indie Publishing.
See you in the funny papers.