Tag Archives: write-a-thon

Getting my research into my writing: Old Sarum

Not quite as much progress on the writing front last week as the week before, with a total of 3800 new words. It’s still more than I had been shooting for at the beginning of the round. Besides, my progress is steady, and that’s good. A friend was visiting from out of town on the weekend, and under those circumstances, I don’t even try to make time for writing.

I’ve also finally managed to start tackling some of my marketing goals. I uploaded new versions of Yseult and Shadow of Stone with the maps in the front, and raised the prices in preparation for a new marketing strategy for the series. (I will eventually devote a complete post to that.)

On to WIPpet Wednesday. This week, we return to Celemon. She and Kustennin are inspecting defensive sites on the border to Cerdic’s lands with an eye to location and infrastructure. The expedition to Venta (Winchester) made it clear that Cerdic is increasing his fighting forces and probably not content with what he has already conquered. This scene takes place in Old Sarum, one of the places I visited on my recent trip to England.

Old Sarum
What Sarum might have looked like at the time of A Wasted Land

Today I give you 7 paragraphs for the 7th month of the year:

“From these ramparts, you can see nearly five miles to the east, the direction from which an attack would most likely come,” Kustennin said. “That would give us time to bring the livestock to safety.”
Celemon inspected the small fort and barracks within the ramparts, many of which stood empty. “How far is it from here to Venta?”
“About half the distance it is to Lindinis. Perhaps a day’s forced march, less on horseback.”
“It’s a wonder Sarum wasn’t taken in the recent wars.”
“Cerdic was more interested in taking rich cities. And Medraut more interested in taking Dumnonia.”
She nodded and turned to gaze out over the plains and rolling hills to the east, in the direction of Venta, now Cerdic’s self-declared capital. How long would it be before speaking of the recent wars no longer hurt so much?
Celemon leaned her forearms on the chest-high wooden defenses at the top of the earthworks, thinking about the father she’d lost, and the future she’d lost soon thereafter, when she’d dissolved her betrothal to Aurelius. She’d never bothered to contemplate the fate of an unmarried woman in their society until that fate had been thrown into her lap. Many women in her position chose a religious life — or at least refuge with the church — but Celemon had never been much prone to study and prayer, preferring fields and creeks to stone walls, and the back of a horse to a humble walk with head bowed. Nor had she ever learned a trade. Women of her status ran households, they did not sell and barter goods at market.

Old Sarum
The view from Old Sarum

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

Post-travel update and more from Taliesin for #WIPpet Wednesday

As a result of a week spent traveling around England, I’m a bit behind in my word count goals for the round so far. I’m shooting for 2500 words a week, and the first two weeks in July only added up to 4000 words total. But I’m confident that I can make make good on those missing words, especially since this week has started out so well — 1600 words total for Monday and Tuesday.

I also completed one of my goals and posted the reports from my trip to my blog. If you missed those and are curious, they begin here.

Now on to WIPpet Wednesday! I will continue where I left off in A Wasted Land two weeks ago, with Taliesin and Kustennin being led into the presence of Cerdic, a British war leader who has allied himself with the Saxons. Since today is the 16th, I give you 16 short paragraphs:

Kustennin tightened his hold on the strap of the drums he carried. That was the last thing they needed, someone who might uncover their magic and see through their illusion. They were relying on their special abilities to get them out of this expedition alive.
But Cerdic still leaned back on his elaborately carved chair several steps above them. Intertwining fantasy beasts competed with each other for dominance on the arm rests and the top of the wooden frame above Cerdic’s head, so different from the streamlined elegance of the furnishings in the villas and hill-forts where Kustennin had grown up.
Cerdic’s lips curled up in a hint of a smile. Despite the magic Taliesin had sensed, it appeared no one had betrayed them to him yet.
“Yes, and who am I?” Cerdic asked.
“The ruler of Venta?”
Laughter broke out in the hall.
“Well deduced, bard.” The near-smile disappeared, and Cerdic leaned forward, his elbows on his knees and his hands clasped. “I ask myself where you have been for the last few years, coming here with the songs you were singing in the market of Venta.”
Taliesin rubbed his chin. “Something tells me this is a trick question. I have been many places, Lord of Venta. For a time I was in the court of Maelgwn of Gwynedd, and that of his uncle, Owain of Rhos. I have also had the honor of playing for Morgan of Powys and his sons. Besides that, our troupe has played at markets all over Britain.”
Kustennin admired the way Taliesin mentioned only kings who had held themselves out of the recent wars and sent no fighting men to support Arthur in his nephew’s rebellion. The bard’s answer gave the lie to his implied claim to be ignorant of politics — on the contrary, it was proof of how well versed he was in the power structures of Britain.
Cerdic motioned to the tall redhead who had spoken to them at the market. “Nerienda, come forward, please.”
Nerienda? The woman was Cerdic’s daughter? Then they were surely lost. Kustennin recalled rumors of Nerienda losing her wits after her husband died fighting against her father. As that obviously was not the case, Kustennin could only presume that her marriage had been part of Cerdic’s plan all along, and she was his accomplice in increasing his power base.
She stepped up to Cerdic’s self-appointed throne. “Yes, father?”
“Does the bard tell truth?”
She bobbed her head. “He tells no lies, my father.”
She is the source of the magic, Taliesin whispered in his mind.
And she had just saved them. But why?
Nerienda turned and looked at him. To have you in my debt.

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

Slowly getting back to writing: My quarterly accounting post

Those who follow this blog will know that I took some time off from writing the last couple of weeks to give my mourning brain a break. When the mourning seemed to be going on a bit to long, I remembered the letter from Clarion West in my inbox and signed up for the Clarion West Write-a-thon again this year. That started on Monday, and I haven’t quite reached my goal of 500 words a day, but almost: 400 a day on Monday and Tuesday, and 500 on Wednesday. At least it’s helping with my main goal — getting back into writing regularly again.

Now for the accounting, my goals at the beginning of the quarter and what became of them.


– Work on writing related projects every day. Once the Big Translation Project is done, return to daily page goals.
I mostly did this, except for the first couple of weeks in June after Jay died. Life happens, and so does death, and sometimes we just can’t push forward with our goals as a result. Some things are more important than writing a few more pages.

– Move forward on A Wasted Land
I have done so, if slowly.

– Finish edits on Recontact (collab eith Jay Lake)
Finished a first round of edits and put the novella through the Villa Diodati workshop in Spain the beginning of May. I have yet to integrate the critiques I got there.

Finish edits on Island of Glass

– Start Facets of Glass
Started, yes, but barely. 🙂

– Write 2 new short stories
Wrote one and started a second.


Be done with the Big Translation Project by the end of April

Writing business:

Publish Island of Glass
DONE! Well, at least for the paperback. 🙂 I still have to arrange some promotion and set a date for the publication of the ebook.

– Publish Recontact (novella with Jay Lake)
I did not finish this in time, unfortunately. 😦 But since I didn’t, I think I may send it around to some magazines first. That might bring in more money for Jay’s daughter and widow than an ebook would.

– Publish “The Shadow Artist” as ebook

– Upload “Leaving Sweater” to Smashwords and make it free
Didn’t upload to Smashwords, but free books through Draft2Digital are now also going free on B&N, which is slowly making Smashwords obsolete, as far as I’m concerned, seeing as their Meatgrinder (their term, not mine) is so difficult to format for. I have better things to do than uploading a book half-a-dozen times. With Draft2Digital, if it doesn’t work the first time, it usually works on the second, and it’s a lot faster to boot. Anyway, “The Leaving Sweater” is now free on both B&N and iTunes. I just have to get Amazon to price match.

– Publish “Mars, A Traveler’s Guide” to Amazon and make it free

Make Author Page for Amazon.de
DONE! You can check it out here.

– Submit a short story a week to traditional publishers
Not quite. Only 7 story submissions this quarter.

– Start marketing my ebooks again
I’m afraid not. Which of course is reflected in my abysmal sales. But I am well aware that I have only myself to blame, and nothing will change until I put my marketing hat back on again.

I don’t have a lot of strike-outs above, but I’m ok with that. Like I said, death happens, and if I started kicking myself for crying too much because a friend died, what kind of person would I be?

And looking at my list, I managed to get more done than I thought, so I’m good. I hope everyone else is happy with their progress.

Jay Lake, June 6, 1964 - June 1, 2014

Clarion West Write-a-thon to the rescue!

I continue to be extremely listless writing-wise since Jay Lake’s death. I’ve been keeping busy, though. I finally organized my trip to Britain for a friend’s wedding the beginning of July. I’ll be staying a couple of extra days to research some sites for A Wasted Land.

This weekend, we also went to the Bodensee / Lake Constance, with a short jog into Switzerland to see the Rheinfall, the Rhine Falls. That was a lot of fun.


Rhine Falls in Switzerland

It inspired us to promise each other to get away a bit more again. Since we bought our little piece of property, we haven’t been doing much in the way of weekend excursions anymore. Who’s going to water the tomatoes, after all??? Which are looking quite good, btw. Still green, but we are harvesting other things already.

A modest harvest

I want to thank those of you who volunteered to help out with the ebook launch of Island of Glass in the comments of my last post. I will try to get back to you in the next couple of days. I’ve been doing about as much social media in recent weeks as I have writing — next to none.

Given my lack of creativity, I’ve been beta-reading. I also got back to a project I’ve been putting together for my dad, a book of photographs and some travel reports from our trip to Norway on the Hurtigruten a couple of years back. And I will publish it too! But it’s not the kind of writing I want to be doing.

So today, to add a little accountability and structure to my attempt to get back to writing, I signed up for the Clarion West Write-a-thon. You can check out my page here. My goals are very modest this round — an average of 500 words a day, five days a week, 15,000 words for the six weeeks of Clarion West. Mostly I’m hoping that it will help me get back to better writing habits again. Besides, I’ll be away in Britain for a week, and I still intend to make the total of 15,000. As I said, very modest, but better than a paragraph here and there between editing and formatting jobs!

Wishing everyone a successful week. 🙂

Clarion West Write-a-thon, goals for the next quarter, and a sale on Yseult

I’ve taken a rather extended break from blogging, for a number of reasons, the only one that is relevant being that I had enough distractions and I wanted to get some writing done. And I have made progress on a couple of projects, despite very full days. I mentioned a while back that I wanted to make a stand-alone version of an episode from Shadow of Stone, and I finished a first version of “Gawain and Ragnell” with it’s own chapter breaks and appropriate quotes from Arthurian literature. While writing the episode originally, I took my inspiration both from the tradition of the “loathly lady” as well as “Gawain and the Green Knight” and a few other medieval tales of Gawain, conflating them all to what I hope I made into a coherent whole. None of the readers of Shadow of Stone have complained yet, so I think I must have been at least partly successful. 🙂

I’ve also returned to A Wasted Land, trying to make sense of the notes and scenes I wrote in March. I printed everything out, cut pages off at scene breaks, kept the pieces of scenes together with paper clips, and started reorganizing everything, moving scenes around and writing scene descriptions on separate pieces of paper in long hand (purpose, who, when, where, what happens, decision), and adding those guidelines to the cut up pieces of paper from the original scene. Doing all this, I realized I had some major flaws in chronology, which I hope my current pile of paper will correct. I’ve now started writing the new version, but I don’t have much in terms of words: only 1200 so far. And I have signed up for the Clarion West Write-a-thon again this year, with my goal being 30,000 words on A Wasted Land by the end of July. AND we will be going on vacation in a couple of weeks, so I should try to get most of those words done before that …

For the curious, here’s the cover:

I want to try to some new fast writing techniques this round anyway, testing what works for me, so it’s all a part of the plan. *g* I’ve read a lot of blog posts and Kindle Board discussions on increasing your output, and I’m at least ready to give it a shot.

No matter what I manage for the write-a-thon, my main goal for the quarter will be to finish a complete draft of A Wasted Land. I’m trying to learn from my previous publishing mistakes, and this book is planned more modestly, with fewer sub-plots, etc. I’m shooting for a first draft of no more than 50,000 words.

This quarter, I also want to do another pass of Gawain and Ragnell, make a cover, publish it, and try to make it free on Amazon.

I’ve started posting Island of Glass to Wattpad, and I want to continue testing such platforms. (Island of Glass is another priority, but I’m a firm believer in letting a work sit before rewriting.) This round, I really want to try and make the writing a priority, as long as life allows.

I have a bunch of “maybe” publishing and writing goals, but those really depend on how far I can get on A Wasted Land. Given how atrocious sales of short story collections are these days, I’ve given up on collections of my previously published stories for the time being.

I wish everyone a very successful round!

(For those who don’t have it yet, Yseult is presently on sale for only 99c.)

Write-a-thon: Final Accounting

Recap: For the six weeks of the Clarion West Write-a-thon, I had the following goals:

– finish 6 short stories
– get six stories out on the market for the first time

This is what I accomplished:

– 4 stories finished
– 2 additional stories started but still unfinished
– 2 new stories submitted

My word count for this week was 4600. Total word count for the last six weeks was 22800, for an average of 3800 words a week. That means I’m almost on track for my ROW80 goal, 4000 words a week. The interesting thing was, though, that my word count increased during the course of the six weeks, except week 5, when I fell back from 4400 words to 4000 words.

With two stories still unfinished, I’m revising my ROW80 goals. Originally when the write-a-thon was over, I had planned to get back to revisions on the Aphra Behn novel. I’m still going to do that, but only an hour a day until I complete the other two stories.

I realize I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to do, but I’m fine with that. Four new short stories to shop around, and 2 more in the works, that’s a pretty decent result for six weeks. One thing I’ve learned in the many many years I’ve been writing – it’s so easy to kick yourself, but life’s a lot more pleasant if you forgive yourself instead.

A little research “trip”

I’ve been doing a lot of research for the latest short story in the last couple days, and today I decided to take a little walk to supplement my online and paper resources. The main character of my steampunk story is the niece of Gottlieb Daimler of automotive fame, and she helps him build an airship.

Luckily, the workshop where Daimler and Maybach built their first motorized vehicles is practically in my own backyard, so I went to take another look at it today, this time with story in mind:

Daimler's workshop

And here’s a model of the airship:

Model of Daimler's Luftschiff

Now if that doesn’t get the steampunk creative juices flowing, nothing will!

Even with the research, I got a total of about 1500 new words on the story written Monday and Tuesday. Haven’t gotten around to writing today yet, though.

“Second Contact” finished

I’ve finally finished my fourth “story” for the the Clarion West Write-a-thon, nearly a week late. I won’t get the six stories done this time, I fear, but at least I’m producing more material to send out into the cold, cruel world. This one is a collaboration with Jay Lake that began many years ago and was abandoned due to novel deadlines and health issues. But I always really liked it, and the write-a-thon was a great excuse to tackle it again.

It’s a monster, though, coming in at 22,000 words. Be interesting to see if we can sell it. If not, we’ll just have to make an e-book out of it. 🙂

Another story finished

I’m still behind schedule, but I did get another story for the Clarion West Write-a-thon finished this week. And with my word count (4400 words) I came in ahead of my goal for Round of Words in 80 Days.

At the same time, I have two other stories in the pipeline, (including the research-intensive Callisto story, which I *still* haven’t finished), and I started brainstorming another story today for a Codex writing challenge.

So if I can finish those three stories by the end of the month, I will achieve my goal for the CW challenge. Hm. Maybe I need drugs?

Why I prefer weekly goals

I’m working on a new story set on Jupiter’s moon Callisto. I did no pre-writing for this before the Clarion West write-a-thon, and it’s pretty research intensive. Of course, the research is giving me loads of ideas on where the story could go. But the fact remains, right now my daily word count is less than I would like, 1700 words until now for this week. But I have to take into consideration that I started a completely new story, brainstormed from scratch last Friday, and for some idiotic writerly reason, the idea that grabbed me was one where I had *no* research background.

But perhaps that’s part of the reason it grabbed me.

So perhaps my goal for this week will end up being forgiving myself for not reaching my word count or story completion goals. I might still find another project that can be finished in the meantime to still manage the story a week during Clarion, but even if I don’t, I have to be able to tackle a story that’s bigger than I can manage in only a week with my meager knowledge of astrophysics. One of the sticky notes on my monitor is a quote from Michael Swanwick, “Consider greatness as a career strategy.” And we can’t do that if we only write the stories that are easy to write in a week, or where we are always only thinking of daily word count.