Category Archives: My writing

Look at me, blogging an’ that

I seem to be doing better on my interaction with people lately. Which is not very secret code for hanging around on social media a lot.

Anyway, last night I brought my wordcount spreadsheet up to date. I keep my own Excel spreadsheet, recording my daily wordcounts on various projects. It’s a good idea, so I can try to keep myself on track, and give myself motivation. It also allows me to track my endeavours on various writing challenges (I love a good challenge, me).

So, after adding up the blog posts I’ve written (few of which have seen the light of day), and the short and flash fiction I’ve written (none of which have seen the light of day), and my faltering, stumbling steps on Death In Print, my Danni Monroe crime novel, I added a whopping 19,257 words to my word count, and my 2016 total now stands at 62,907.

One of the challenges I enjoy is the #100kwords100days project, which has been running twice a year for several years now. To achieve my goal (100,000 words in 100 days, of course) I need to write just over 3,000 words a day for the next 12 days.

So I’m off to write.

Pip pip!

Welcome, 2016

2016So, here we are again. Another New Year – countries to the East of us here in the UK have dropped into 2016 already. So in this increasingly globalised society, we are all in the New Year. Sort of.

None of us knows what lies in store for us, as individuals, as a country, as a society. And yet, each year, we make resolutions – promises to ourselves, made public, to lose weight, exercise more, join a gym, drink or smoke less. All things designed to make us healthier, and maybe to live longer.

Inevitably, a lot of these so-called “resolutions” go by the board. Promises get broken, the healthy living takes a turn for the worse, and we’re back into the same old, same old.

I don’t make resolutions. I don’t give myself nominal binaries which can be judged a success or a failure.

So here, then, are my targets for 2016:

1. to write one short story a week for the whole year (a.k.a. the Bradbury Challenge) https://www.facebook.com/groups/1531196743840045/  I love writing short stories, and don’t write enough of them these days. I have the outline idea for the first dozen, linked, stories.

2. to write 100,000 words @ 1,000 words a day (a.k.a. #100kwords100days https://www.facebook.com/groups/100kwords100days/ I have done this challenge before – sometimes successfully, sometimes not. And you could say, I have a big enough pile of work that I don’t need to write more new stuff. But you know me and challenges …

3. to do first edits on two previously-completed novels Here I want to make use of some of that back catalogue of zero and first drafts. I have five finished pieces, and I reckon two of them are in a form that can be edited up into publishable works.

4. to self-publish two collections of short fiction for halloween and Christmas Again, I want to make use of my short story writing. I have a handful of stores already in the can, as it were, but I’m sure some of the Bradbury Challenge stories will be of a suitable genre to include.

5. to write a blog post once per week (minimum) Yes, I know. There are so many bloggers, and people who blog (there is a difference) who don’t blog often enough. I’m one of them. So this will change this coming year.

6. to write book and short story reviews on the blog. I read a lot, and it might be useful (and good for creating traffic) to write short reviews. Again, it’s a case of having things that I do that are related to writing, and it seems reasonable to record them somewhere.

7. to be more active on Goodreads, posting reviews etc. Goodreads is one of those places, like Facebook, Twitter, and other places, where time can be sucked away, drifting in and out of conversations and reading what other people are doing. I shall limit my time there, perhaps having specific days where I will be updating.

So, all in all, a pretty mixed bag of writing and reading-related goodliness. But I’ll leave with a quote from Joe Konrath, a leading light in new writers and self-publishers, who does a look forward each year. If you want to see the complete post, it’s here:
http://jakonrath.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/konraths-new-years-resolutions-for.html

2016

This year, I’m boiling my resolutions down to the essence:

WRITE.

It’s so easy to get caught up in different aspects of a writing career. I’ve had phases where I tried to help other writers, started my own company, blogged, collaborated, fought the publishing world, evangelised, experimented, promoted, tried to figure things out, and spent a whole lot of time doing stuff other than writing.

I’m happy I did all that. But it has taken me away from the thing I like most.

I might be a blogger, and a teacher, and an innovator, and a pundit. But first and foremost, I’m a writer.

And writers write.

So for 2016, I’m going to write more than I’ve ever written before. I’m going to finish those stories I’ve put aside, I’m going to break new ground, and I’m going to get back to my roots. I’ve spent a lot of time tending to my career. And for good reason. A backlist is a garden that needs attention to grow and prosper.

But now I’m going to spend the lion’s share of my time planting more seeds.

I’m looking for 2016 to be my most productive year ever.

Not much to disagree with there, I think.

*silence*

I’m like a donkey in the desert.

The donkey in the desert is a story, wherein a hungry and thirsty donkey, wandering through the desert (stay with me here) climbs a rise, and sees food. And water. And, by a strange quirk of fate, finds himself exactly in the middle of the food and water. Should he eat first, then drink? Or drink first, then eat? What a quandary. And so the donkey, not being able to decide whether he needs water or food more, stays stationary for hours. And dies.
Happy story, huh?

I’ve written a ton of stuff over the years. A. TON. Literally. Well, it would be a ton if it was written on hunks of stone, something like Labour election promises.

I’ve published my now one compendium (some would say collection) of small dark fiction entitled Bleak Midwinter Tales. You should totally check it out. Maybe even buy it.

So that’s positive. And I have over a million other words, spread across some 30-odd works-in-progress. That’s a lot. Not a ton, granted, but still a lot.

And therein lies the problem.

What is this mammoth body of work, I hear you ask (I hear voices a lot). I have horror. I have crime fiction. Rather a lot of crime fiction. I have apocalyptic thrillers. I have lots of those, too. And I have non-fiction travel stuff.

But the problem is, that all of this ‘stuff’ needs work. Editing, at least. Rewriting, some. Finishing, most. And (like the poor old donkey) I don’t know what I want to do first. And, as a result, I’m doing nothing, apart from moaning about politics.

As luck would have it, an extended break approaches. Some might call it a holiday, some might call it research, some might call it running away. But I shall be gone from my normal environs, to return some weeks later. And, by the time I return, I shall know what I am to do. I shall no longer be the donkey in the desert, but instead be the donkey laying down in the shade of a tree, having been eating and drinking to excess.

I’m looking for a tree even now. Just so I’m prepared, you understand.

A drabble (100 words)

I was providing a little support for an author friend, and we both wrote a drabble (strict 100 word story) to accompany the following photo:

10345836_1100739893286428_8345366663782968045_n

Colin paused, bending double, his breathing slowing, ruing all those expense-account lunches. He straightened again, looking up at the sky. In the distance, dark clouds were gathering. He turned, and his breath caught in his throat.

“What the …?”
Nestled amongst the trees, a door – white paint peeling and faded, innocuous in the natural surroundings. A glassed Gothic arch above bled feeble yellow light into the deepening gloom. He approached, slowly, carefully, dried twigs snapping under his feet. Despite the obvious anachronism, he couldn’t dispel the his feeling of unease as he extended his hand towards the round, brass handle.

Hello, 2015!

No New Year Resolutions here.Hello-2015-2 This is a resolution-free zone. Just some goals, smart targets, desires, that sort of thing.

* I’d like to think I shall be writing at least a quarter of a million words this year. Last year, I wrote more than 276,000, but that was with very little editing, and no publishing. I now have an office, so I have no excuse (I actually have hundreds of excuses, but I’m keeping those for this time next year). With a scheduled two sessions of #100kwords100days and a #NaNoWriMo, there’s 250k right there. Of course, I’d like to do more, but we’ll have to see about that.

* I’d like to be publishing 3 novel-length books this year. This is self-publishing, of course. Something I’ve done before, but it’s been a couple of years since I last self-published. My collection of short and flash fiction (previously available as two books) is being squashed into one publication, and will be available soon in every outlet I can find.

* I want to expand the Writer Chat channel, and maybe do just one chat a week, but with a wider variety of writers. Anyone have Stephen King’s email address?

If I achieve those three things, then 2015 will have been a win. And they’re all within my own control. I can do these if I want to, and no one can stop me. Except the Stephen King thing. That might be a stretch.

Here’s some writing motivation to start off the new year:

First from Dean Wesley Smith:

http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/new-world-of-publishing-failure-must-be-an-option/

http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/new-world-of-publishing-control/

And then from Chuck Wendig:

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/11/26/why-its-important-to-finish-your-shit/

and finally from Russell Blake:

http://russellblake.com/2015-predictions/

Thought-provoking, huh?

I hope you have a great 2015, and it will be a year of success, however that might be measured.

 

Goodbye, 2014

Everyone else is doing it, so why shouldn’t I?

goodbye 2014My wordcount for 2014 topped 276,000 words. Most of those were written during two editions of #100kwords100days (January and July) and NaNoWriMo. That’s quite a lot of words.

More impressively (for me, anyway) that the total includes three completed works-in-progress – one to first draft stage (42k of dark horror), and two to draft zero stage (one at 70k, and one at 54k, both apocalyptic fiction). I’ve got several other works part-completed, too. I’ve got two crime stories standing at nearly 30k, which should be completed early in the new year.

Publishing? Not so much. Despite a wish / hope to publish several things this year, nothing got done. I’m a bad finisher. I love the act of writing, of creating stories and tales, but the grind of editing / rewriting bores me. Sorry, but it does. So that needs to change.

My personal writing website got created at http://gerald-hornsby.com/ and I managed to transfer my blog over to the sub-domain, http://gerald-hornsby.com/blog/ The website is a bit sparse at the moment, but I’m hoping to get that tidied up in the next week or two. The blog is trundling on, which is where you’ll be reading this.

I also started a new venture – http://writer-chat.com/ where I interview one or more writers via a Google Hangout. I think it went really well, mostly featuring local writers during NaNoWriMo, but I had some non-local writers on there, too. Look out for more chats coming up in the new year.

So that’s about it, writing-related. 2014 was a good year for writing. Three completed first / zero drafts of longer works? I’ll take that.

tomorrow first page of book

Post NaNoWriMo – an update

It’s now the 10th of December, and I’m still writing.

You might have noticed a stream of little bits of writing in a “Small Stones Dec 2014” category. It’s from the River of Small Stones idea which started a few years ago. I wrote about it then. It’s a great idea to get / keep your creative juices flowing in the post-NaNo slump. I know they’re not very good. I’m no poet, and I don’t have the breadth of symbolism required to make them really good, but I like them. I have forgotten to upload them each day, which is why there’s a slew of them uploaded just now. But I do write them every day, otherwise I’d forget what I had been doing.

On NaNoWriMo, I wrote an end of month update here: http://gerald-hornsby.com/blog/2014/11/30/nanowrimo-2014-its-all-over-almost/ And since then?  I’ve continued to write the City in Flames story and, as of this moment, I’m at 62,714 words, and nearing the end. I’m pleased with how it’s been going, averaging nearly 1,400 words per day during December.

I’ve also been on Twitter a bit more, under the handle @AuthorGerald if you want to follow me.

And that’s about it for the moment. Time to write!

NaNoWriMo 2014 – it’s all over (almost)

So, NaNoWriMo is all but over for another year. I validated my word count (and downloaded my certificate and winners’ badges) at around 3.30pm today (30th November). But it wasn’t really that close. I had started a #50k5days project (yes, writing 50,000 words in 5 days) which I wasn’t able to successfully complete, and I had over 27k words on that for the month, too. But I wanted to finish the NaNo with a ‘proper’ 50k words.

wordcount2014-100k100-30NovRegarding NaNoWriMo itself, I wrote a first half or so of a novel City in Flames, another apocalyptic ‘The world in going to end’ novel which will fit quite nicely into the, as yet, unpublished End Of Civilisation series. My writing pace was a bit all over the place (see graph to the side): the blue line is my daily word count, the red line the average over the month, and the greeny line is words ahead of / behind target. But it’s done, and this is my 10th ‘win’ in 11 attempts. And, for the first time, I don’t hate my story. Previous NaNo ‘things’ have been despised by me, and grinding out the words has been a trial. But not this time. I had a good story, I had reasonable characters, and an active timeline which makes the story work well as a thriller. At least, I think so. I’ll be continuing to write this.

City In flames1-smallOh, and thanks to a very kind offer, I have a cover done for me by Rivka Kawano over at http://www.authorsensei.com/cover-design–illustration.html

Social activities? I went to the Essex NaNo group Kickoff party, and it was great to see some existing friends and meet new ones. Well done @em_biddulph for taking on the role of Essex ML once again, and for organising so many events. The NaNoEssex Facebook page was lively and interesting, too.

This year saw the official introduction of a Suffolk region, and as I’m almost literally a stone’s throw from Suffolk (well, a very hard throw of a very small stone), I joined that group, too, under the watchful eye of their ML, Sarah. I went to a few of their write-ins, and they had a very active Facebook page, too. I was happy to join a group of word sprinters on there to push my word count along. So the social aspects of NaNoWriMo were very enjoyable again.

Regarding #50k5days, I began the month trying to find 5 consecutive days where I could dedicate my time to writing ten thousand words each day, but that was difficult. So I announced I would be doing it piecemeal during the month. And then, I left it to the last minute, so I was using the last 5 (consecutive) days for writing this. I started day 1 with over 8k, then 10k on day 2, then a disappointing 7.4k for day 3, when real life got in the way. Day 4 was an almost complete bust at 2k, and at that point, I abandoned. But here again, I have what I think will make a good story, and the writing I’ve done is as near as a good edit / rewrite from a finished draft as I’ve ever done. So double positive.

And what now?

I’ve started a “Write.A.Page.A.Day” group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/write.a.page.a.day/ if you’re interested), with the intention of encouraging authors (me, mainly) to keep writing during the days and weeks after the end of NaNo.

I have my Writer-Chat shows http://writer-chat.com/ where I will spread my chatty net wider, beyond my NaNo buddies, haranguing published authors onto the ‘air’ with me. I’ve invested some money in audio equipment, so I’m intending to increase the professionalism of the show as we continue. I want to provide podcasts of them in the future, too.

“What about publishing”, I hear you cry? (I hear stuff all the time, it’s okay). I was hoping to publish three things this year. So far, I’ve published … nothing. Another target missed. My collaborative slasher horror is in second edit. I have three completed first drafts, waiting for me to return to them – one is crime, which might get my attention first, and t’others are apocalyptic thrillers, which need a bit more work. So it’s all there, or thereabouts.

And sleep. I need better sleep. I had too many late nights attempting to meet wordcount targets. I watched with interest as the quality of my writing curved downwards as the month progressed. My vocabulary disintegrated until words of even a single syllable were tricky.

Thanks to all my real-life and online friends for the support, the banter and the discussions. It was a brilliant month.

2014 – a look ahead

 

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklers

 SUMMARY

I shall be aiming to participate in the usual #100kwords100days challenges (January and July, all things being equal) and also in NaNoWriMo 2014.

There is also a rather larger, tougher writing challenge – #milwordy. Those who are good at deciphering acronyms might realise that the challenge is to write 1,000,000 words during 2014. One. Million. Words. Two thousand, seven hundred and forty words a day. Every day.

I’m pretty sure I can do this. Typing isn’t a problem for me, and I have a stack of new project ideas ready to be lifted from obscurity. But my problem is one of producing stories which are good enough to go on to publish.

And that’s one of the downsides to rapid writing – the quality can, and sometimes does, suffer. Do I really need another million words of something-less-than-first-drafts, when I already have nearly 720,000 already sitting in Works In Progress? When doing my fast writing, I tell myself that I can add more character depth later, add a plot twist or a subplot later. And, I think, that leads me to be dissatisfied with my writing. It’s a conundrum. 

WRITING PROJECTS

Anyway, I’ve been thinking, and I know what my major project will be this year, and that is to write a series of apocalyptic fiction novels, with a common main character taking the reader from small, local, everyman issues, up to global and international issues, and perhaps beyond.

I’m not going to do this alone. Oh no. I have a small army of previously-written concepts, which I’m going to use as fleshed-out plans for my 2014 writing. I have a character who struggles with politics and business (key themes for my End Of Civilization series), but on a very basic, local level.

He then moves onto to the national stage, moving in circles with people he used to watch on TV, tackling big international issues.

Then, he moves onto a global stage, where the challenges are bigger and the stakes are higher.

The final piece of the series bring him full circle, back to a very local level, dealing with personal issues, because he’s failed to resolve the mighty issues that challenged him in Book 3.

 Added to that (which is a big enough project on its own, I know) I will be trying to complete my collection of crime series. For marketing reasons, that might be written under a pseudonym, but we’ll see. All in all, it’s going to be a busy year.

 Happy New Year!