2016 Writing Season (Series 1)

creativewriter

Image Source: The Guardian.com

I’m back in the writer’s chair!

As this is primarily an author’s blog dealing with Science Fiction and Fantasy (with other miscellaneous topics thrown in), I wanted to announce that I’ve started my 2016 writing season!  Huzzah!

I just completed Chapter 1 of my 1st novel (after having already done the Prologue) and gave it to my “alpha” readers on Friday (more on that down below).  I have a short-story that I’m working on and another that I’m brainstorming now.  I just reorganized my writing space to be more conducive to researching markets in order to get a list of potential markets for stories that are finished ready, as well as to make the actual composition of the writing easier.  So, read on to find out what I’m doing/planning this year.

SERIES 1 & SERIES 2

My plan is to divide the year into 3 major parts: Series 1, Summer, and Series 2.  Series 1 runs from January to May and in it I will work on short stories and chapters from my novel.  On weekends, I will brainstorm new projects and decide which ones to write.  The bulk of my writing time will also happen on weekends (the only time when I can consistently seem to write on weekdays is Tuesdays for some reason and that’s simply not enough time.)  But, as I don’t really have as many responsibilities on the weekend, I can convert some of my free time to writing time and push through some of the projects that I want to work on this year.

During the summer, I want to continue working on my novel, but I also want to try longer works, such as a graphic novel & screenplay).  My goal is to work on each one every day during the summer (no school!) and then have a rough draft of each completed by the end.

Series 2 picks off where series one ended: short stories and working on chapters for the novel.  It will end right around the time school ends for the holidays for a break to recharge and then (hopefully) rinse, wash, and repeat, but with a new novel for 2017.

That’s my goal anyway.  We’ll see how close I come to it. 😀

PROJECT LIBRARIAN (Novel)

My 1st novel is what I’m working on right now.  I’m calling it “Project Librarian” and it is set in a post-apocalyptic world with a (you guessed it) Librarian as a protagonist.  I was a Library Assistant for 17 years before becoming a teacher, so I went with the old adage to “write what you know” for this first novel.  I’ve completed the Prologue and 1st Chapter so far so I’ve a ways to go.  One of the shows that I listen to on NPR had a guest who called the creation of a novel, “the slow accretion of pages.”  So my goal is to simply create the pages of my novel all through the year and have a rough draft ready by the end of the year.

PROJECT LIGHT (Sci-Fi short story)

This is a short story that I’ve wanted to write for the last 3 years, but the time seems right to do it now.  It is sort of the “Halo-Killer” story that I wanted to see from Sony during the Microsoft X-Box 360 days, but that Sony never did.  It is my take on the “Space Marines” genre.  I’m on the first section of the story now, but I may have to push it back.  I just reread the guidelines for the anthology that I want to send it to and they specify no planet/star stories and this definitely takes place on a planet.  The planet is crucial to the plot, so I can’t just change the setting.

PROJECT SHADOW (Sci-Fi short story)

So there is a “deep space” story that I’ve wanted to work on for a while.  I wrote down a “concept” in one of my writing notebooks, but to my dismay, I could only find bits and pieces of the concept (necessitating the reorganization of my writing materials).  I’m writing it to a deadline, but I’ll wait to post it here.  So far, I’m 0 for 3 on hitting my deadlines when I post them, but I’m 6 for 6 when I keep them in the back of my mind and just try to hit them naturally (rather than trying to force/pressure myself into hitting them artificially).  If I finish it and submit, I’ll add in the information here when I write an Author’s Note for the Project.

MARKETING MY WORK

The last thing that I’m trying to work on this year is getting better at marketing (selling) my work to various markets.  I’m going to create a list of 5-10 markets that I want to sell the story to (& that I feel are the best fit).  If “surprise” anthologies come along and the story is open, or if it comes back before the anthology closes, then I’ll definitely submit ASAP (that’s how Faerie Knight, Knight of the Wylde West were published), but otherwise I’ll stick to those 5-10 markets until I’ve exhausted them and find 5-10 more.  I’ve been using Duotrope and while it is useful, there are so many places to send stories, that it is almost overwhelming to keep up with it all on the limited amount of time that I have during the week.  So, I’m going to narrow my focus.  I’m picking a completed story, deciding on 5-10 most important markets (pay, prestige, or both) and then submitting until a market takes it or I need to find another 5-10.

I did much BETTER in completing stories in 2015 in a timely manner, but much WORSE in actually selling them/getting time published than I did in 2014.

Well, that’s probably more than you cared to know about my writing process/goals for this year, but it helps me to fix it down in print.  That way I can periodically come back to this post throughout the year to encourage myself to keep writing, no matter what!

 

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Cutting the Cord

cutting the cord

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Welcome to the first post of the blog for 2016!  Huzzah!  My goal (not Resolution, but goal) is to post on a weekly schedule.  I did so during the last of November and most of December, even with the craziness of grading and deadlines, so it seems doable.

This post was supposed to be the last post of 2015, but it took longer to put into put into place than I anticipated.  This post is all about cutting the cord (or moving from a cable-based future to a streaming one).

Yesterday, I finally turned in my cable boxes and remotes and I’m completely based on streaming content (for TV/Movies) or pulling content from over-the-air (local & live sports).  Yes, I know that with a few tech options I could eliminate the over the air part and do it all digitally, but it works better for my workflow to have at least 1 TV dedicated to local programming (news) and live sports.

APPLE TV

AppleTV

My main source of streamed content is via the new AppleTV.  I have an Apple ecosystem and having the new AppleTV gives me the most flexibility.  I can buy shows and movies through iTunes, download digital copies from iTunes from the Blu-Rays that I purchase, and I can AirPlay apps and games that I purchase on my phone and iPad to the TV if I so choose.

The key is to set a budget and stick to it.  There are so many things out there and available that it is easy to overspend if you overdo it.  I’ve found that if I focus on one or two series at a time and finish them before buying anything else, I can stay within budget.  I don’t have a lot of time to watch TV anyway, so focusing only on shows and movies that truly interest me seems to be a more cost effective and efficient way of consuming content.

ITUNES, NETFLIX AND AMAZON PRIME

With Netflix and Amazon Prime, I get many of the shows that I’m interested in (of course, Science Fiction/Fantasy) like Star Trek (the various spinoffs), Dark Matter (new 2015 show), Stargate (older shows like SG-1), and Farscape.  These are just the few that I’ve investigated.  I’m sure there are others.  I also get access to a few movies, though not as many as I’d like (again, genre-based).  For the movies, this is where I use iTunes to supplement Netflix/Amazon.

Here, though, is a drawback of streaming only.  The movie industry saw the lowering of prices of music and fought that vigorously arguing that lower prices devalue their product.  Yes, the link is a bit old, but it is only to illustrate a point.  Movies are artificially higher in price than they are truly worth.  You can’t tell me that Jack the Giant Slayer (a 2013 release with below average ratings) is worth $14.99 which is the same price that The Martian (a 2015 release which will contend for the Oscars more than likely).  Jack the Giant Slayer should be in the 7.99-9.99 range by now.  It is the problem with many digital pricing structures–prices do not seem to go down over time, while the physical prices do because retailers need to clear shelf space for the next new thing.  You never have to run out of the digital item so retailers don’t lower the prices over time.

The easiest way I can think of not to spend a ton of money on movies is to set a budget that roughly equals 1 movie ($14-$20) per period on viewing media per pay period and not go over that.  Include Season Passes for shows that I want to watch that aren’t on Netflix & Amazon Prime and I’ll need to limit myself and make a choice–1 big purchase of a movie or 1 Season Pass which will last several weeks (or less if I binge watch the show).

Still, even this is preferable to paying a premium every month for TV & movies that I never will watch.

THE FUTURE

So, this will be an interesting experiment.  Can I watch the shows that I want to watch and the movies while not breaking the bank so to speak?

I think I can as I just watched the entire Series 9 of Dr. Who (Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman), in addition to the Christmas Specials of Dr. Who and Sherlock via iTunes, and I’m watching/rewatching the entire series run of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Netflix before turning my attention to Star Wars Rebels via iTunes.

I’ll keep you all posted periodically on my successes and struggles as I try to embrace a (nearly) streaming only household.