Sunday, October 31, 2021

NaNo, I've missed Thee

I've got some history with Nano, or National Novel Writing Month, a challenge to write a 50k word story in 30 days. I've participated 5 times, failed my first one with only half the words, then won 4 times. I've skipped some years, like I did in 2020 because I've realized I can become an ass hole when I push myself to write so much. I have put off so much home stuff to complete it that my wife understandably hated it (and probably me). 

I have ended up with 4 very rough first drafts, although one I didn't actually complete. Old School Evil was my first victory, followed by Old School Evil 2, which is in the critiquing process, and 2 spin-off novels. 

I've decided this year to try it again and get Old School Evil 3 started. I realized I've made most of my writing progress on all of my victories at work and now that I'm back at my old job, I'm going to take advantage of it. I've got a few ideas for the story this time but no outline. I think I do my best writing when I just let the words flow.

I am worried about this year because we just decided to have my mom come out to visit and there's a lot of work that needs to happen before she gets here. But with a little Energon and a lot of luck, I'll have a winner's certificate on here on November 30th. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

Back to Basics

I’ve been pretty quiet lately here and it’s been difficult going this long without posting.  Shortly after my last post, I found out I got a new job, working the Veterans Benefits Hotline for the VA.  I considered it a positive thing – extra pay and working from home, who wouldn’t want that?  Turns out 4 months later, I would be one of those people.  I’m not going to go into the job, but I can say that after three months of training and one month on the calls, I’ve gone back to my old position.  It’s a bit of a pay cut, but at least I’m making more now than I was when I left in May.  And I actually get free time at this job.  Before I left, though, I mostly wasted it refreshing news sites over and over again.

Now that I’m back, I plan on taking advantage of that time to write and edit and pot a lot more than I ever did before.  I’ve spent the last few days during my re-orientation dumping a jumble of thoughts onto paper that I didn’t have a chance to write down lately.  I’ve been spilling so many ideas, it’s filled half a notebook in just a couple of days.  It’s refreshing on a level I’m not even familiar with lately.

Due to the change in jobs, a couple of my previous plans have fallen apart though.  I’m no longer going to Emerald City Comic-Con in December, and the second edition of Old School Evil that was supposed to have been published months ago still hasn’t happened.  I’ve got the cover complete (besides one little change I need to make), but I still need to edit the document to add a few things.  I haven’t even created a new listing for it yet.  Hopefully, that will all happen this month, but I’m not holding my breath.

Edits on Old School Evil 2 are still ongoing.  My critique group so far loves it, and they haven’t found many problems so far.  I’m still waiting for a few beta readers to get through the whole document though.  The plan to have it published by December to coincide with the ECCC is similarly canceled.  Hopefully, I can still publish it before the end of the year, but we’ll see.

I do plan on competing in NaNoWriMo this year again after taking it off last year.  I’m planning to try out another new novel, and a lot of the time writing notes this week have been fleshing out the idea for it.  I’ve had a few cartoons made up for it for years but not a story that links them together, but I think I’ve finally gotten it down.  I’m better without an outline anyway for these first drafts.  

My next big editing project is the NaNo story I wrote in 2019.  I won’t go into what it is here, but I have a lot of work to do on it this month to get it ready for edits.  Expect some news on it soon though, I plan on making more frequent (and shorter) posts on the blog here with all the progress I’m hoping to make while at work.

The last thing I want to share is that I’m hoping to get way more involved in the Retro Network.  Before I took the new job, I had planned to post a review of the Bravestarr movie, but then I never had the time to write it.  Now that I have the time, I’m hoping to get it written up and posted soon.  I’ve also got two series of articles I’m hoping to start posting there – one about cartoon episodes that would make for good movie adaptations, and one about a motivational speaker giving advice to villains based on their terrible plans.  I had thought about starting up a YouTube channel with the first idea, but I think it’s a better fit on TRN.

Overall, I can say I feel better than I have all Summer and way more positive.  I’m hoping that continues for the rest of this year and beyond.  Expect to see more of me online, whether it’s here, Amazon, or the Retro Network.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

A couple of milestones

It's been busy here in the last month!  A ton of progress has been made on Old School Evil 2, the big thing being finishing the 3rd draft.  I guess I should go over what the actual drafts are at this point, so it makes sense what I've done.

  1. I wrote the first draft in November 2017, I think.  When it was over, it just tipped the scales at 50k words and it stunk like hot garbage.  I mean, it was terrible and I was pretty unhappy with it.  Everything I wanted was in there, but to make it meet the 50k words to win NaNoWriMo, I had to put in a ton of junk.
  2. I started the second draft a month or so after I finished the first one, which was to be a total rewrite.  While the story in the first draft was serviceable, the second POV was on the wrong character.  I went into this draft with a new villain as the second main and it worked out a lot better.
  3. My third draft started with a full read-through of the second draft, finding all the problems I could with missing character motivations, continuity errors, weird or lacking descriptions, and the like.  I made a ton of comments through it (mostly asking what the hell I meant by some things since I started the draft 4 years ago), and went back and addressed all of them, and I think in the end I addressed every problem I found.
So now I'm at the point where I need some outside sources for help.  First up, I'm going to get one of those editing programs.  I have used the free version of Grammarly before, but this time I'm going to try out the paid version of ProWritingAid.  My critique group swears by both paid programs, with the majority of them using both paid programs, but I can't afford that, so I'm just using PWA.  Once I've made all the suggested changes from that (and I can't say I'm looking forward to seeing how many there are), I'll start submitting it to other people, like my critique group.

I've made a post on Twitter about this as well, but if anyone that's read the first book wants to be a beta-reader for this one, let me know.  I would love as many eyes on this as I can before it goes live.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

An Unplanned Update?!

 As I sit here on April 6th, I feel I have made considerable progress on Old School Evil, both on the second book and just the brand as a whole.  When I say considerable, I do need to say that's compared to the last year where I hadn't been doing much at all with it, so keep that in mind.

A while ago I listened to Adam Savage's book Every Tool's a Hammer: Life is What You Make It. I am a big fan of his work on Mythbusters and his One Day Builds on his Tested YouTube channel, and I pretty often will put on a video just to listen to him talk through his crafting process while I'm washing dishes or something.  I love his enthusiasm for his craft and the subject of his work as well, so I thought his book, narrated by himself, would be pretty cool to listen to (I do audiobooks almost exclusively, with one recent exception, which I'll get to in a second).  

The book goes through a lot of his processes and it goes in-depth in the Makers' craft, but also goes into general tips that work for practically anyone doing creative work.  The part I caught on the most was how he builds lists and checks things off.  After finishing the audiobook, I returned it to the library and went on with my life, not really taking any of his advice in anything I was doing.

Months later, after languishing in procrastination, I thought back to Adam's book and decided I needed to actually digest everything he said.  I actually bought a copy of the book so I could go through the chapters on lists and checkboxes deadlines.  Oh those deadlines, my mortal enemy!  

I think I've cobbled a system together that's been working for me the last month or so.  I've got my massive list of everything I need to do for Old School Evil, the Retro Network, the Prototytan Project (an old 3D modeling and printing idea I was playing with a long time ago that I've been rethinking), and pretty much everything else in my life.

So the first thing that I've been doing is writing on the book again.  I've outlined the next major scene in Old School Evil 2 and I've started writing it out as well.  I have two big scenes left in the book, with some interconnecting bits and the epilogue and end parts to finish it up.  I've got reasonable deadlines for each of those parts and if everything goes right, I should be done with the 2nd draft by the end of the month.  I've got deadlines in place for the rest of the drafts and plan on having the book completed by the end of November.

Why November you ask?  Because one thing Adam says in his book is that deadlines should be relevant to what I'm doing.  I had tried doing deadlines before but I'd give arbitrary dates, the end of the year or my birthday or something and I'd blow through them because they didn't matter.  So I've decided what my relevant deadline would be - Emerald City Comic-Con!  Yeah, Seattle's not really close to me, and I've never been to a comic-con nearly this big, but I figure it would be a cool event to try to sell in, and my wife and I have been wanting to visit there for years.  And it's the only comic-con on the west coast that is in a timeframe that I could reasonably finish the book, so that works out perfectly.

I've also been working on the new cover for book 1 that could be updated to give book 2 a similar style.  I've contacted an artist online to start the commission process.  I need to update him on the whole order and get some process from him, but I'm super excited to get the ball rolling further.

On the Retro Network front, I have posted a few new articles there - Toylines that Deserved a Cartoon and Ring Raiders: Crashing on Take-Off - and I have a new one coming out soon about Cartoon Reboots.  The second part of that about Cartoon Movies should be posted a week or so later, and I have a few more things planned afterward, so keep an eye out at the Retro Network.

That's about all the progress I've made lately.  I know it doesn't sound like much but compared to everything that's come before it since the whole Covid thing, I feel like a freaking whirlwind.  Expect more updates like this too, because it feels great having stuff to actually post here more than every six months.

Monday, February 8, 2021

One year update

I just randomly looked at my posts and tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of closing down the site.  I'm not sure why I'm posting anything here, but I figure it's a pretty good reason to give an update so why not?

I'm still not any closer to publishing Old School Evil 2. I keep trying to figure out when I can write, and I've done a little better at clearing time for creative endeavors at work.  However, editing the book has become extremely tedious and I'm not even sure why.  It was fine up to this point, but right now, I just can't do it.  Maybe I just need a change of scenery or something.

I have recently rejoined my old writing group and while I didn't submit anything for the last three or four meetings, I finally did send them something to critique.  It's the first section of my NaNo project from 2019, a spin-off standalone book in the Old School Evil universe.  I won't post anything here about it since I'm not sure I've ever even mentioned it online, but I'm getting feedback on it tomorrow, so I'm just going to say I'm excited about that.  

I have done a little writing lately though - I posted two Mega Construx-related articles on The Retro Network.  Yup, I finally posted something that wasn't holiday-related or a request from the management there!  I've got a few more lists I'm planning to write and post there and I'm hoping to get one of them done this week.  If you're interested in reading my stuff there, here's a link.

Lastly, I think I mentioned this before, but I'm planning to do a relaunch for the first Old School Evil novel.  I had originally planned to release it right before putting out book 2 just so I can ride that new book wave, but I'm wondering if I should just relaunch book 1 ASAP and not worry about matching the releases up at all.  I've finally figured out the artists I want working on it, and I think I've figured out the look well enough to try making it myself again.  I'd love to make some mock-ups and get some opinions on them here someday soon, but I have to wait until one of the artists is open to commissions again.

Anyway, that's it for me.  It's late, and I have a few minutes alone before going to bed, so maybe I'll try to write something.  Or then again, I might just watch an episode of Blood of Zeus instead.