Mid-August update

It’s already mid-August? Where in the heck did the last eight months go? Feels like the election drama from last year never really died down.

Don’t worry, this post isn’t about politics. Not enough time in the day to follow the latest circus sideshow in the Emerald City of Oz. Time has been on my mind, though: specifically, how to write 10k words a week (minimum) while catching up on the massive list of publishing tasks. I think I’ve found the answer.

I already get up every day around 7am to get ready for my part-time day job. Recently, I started getting up at 6am to put in an hour of writing first thing in the morning. The goal isn’t to pound out words so much as to get the mental gears turning, so that later in the day (such as lunch break) I can pick up very rapidly where I left off.

So far, it seems to be working. Plus, it’s a whole lot easier to sit down and write at the end of the day when you know you’ve already got more than a thousand words under your belt and can hit that daily word count goal with just another few hundred. My writing productivity is improving significantly, and as I continue to work out the kinks, I believe it will continue to improve.

On the writing front, I’ve put A Queen in Hiding on the back burner for the moment, and have instead moved on to Gunslinger to the Galaxy. This one is from Jane’s point of view, and so far, it’s a blast. Should be finished with that WIP by the end of September.

On the publishing side, there’s all sorts of stuff going on. I’ve got a cover artist for The Sword Keeper, and the preliminary sketches look really amazing! Also going through the edits and getting the metadata worked out. I’ll probably write the author’s note over the weekend. By the end of next week, it should be up for preorder with a release date of September 23.

My goal is to get to the point where I’ve always got a novel on preorder. Another goal is to have print books and audiobooks for every title more than 15k words, but that’s going to take some time.

This would all be so much simpler if I didn’t spend 30 hours a week at a day job. Time, money, or youth: you can only pick two of the three, and if you’re under 40 one of them has to be youth.

That’s what I’m up to these days. Expect to see some exciting stuff in the weeks ahead!

Mid June update

So it’s the middle of June, and I really should have finished Patriots in Retreat by now, but it’s been difficult to stick to any kind of writing routine, and the story is at that place where everything seems broken and writing through it is like slogging through a swamp.

Call me crazy, but I’m starting to think that’s not healthy. In Brandon Sanderson’s English 318R class at BYU, he always said the most important thing was to power through and just finish the damn thing–that you can always go back and “fix it in post”–but while that’s good advice for a new writer who hasn’t ever finished anything, I don’t think it works very well for my own writing process.

I think that what I need to do is take every weekend to cycle through the entire story from the beginning, not necessarily to rewrite it all, but to bring it into line with the stuff that unfolds later. Invariably, when I get to the three quarters mark of my WIP, it feels like the whole thing is barely holding together and that I’m writing myself into a train wreck.

For the last several years, I’ve tried to just write through that, only for one of two things to happen: either something else catches my interest and I decide to put the WIP on the back burner for a while, or it actually does turn into a train wreck and I have to set it on the back burner for a while in order to approach it with a new set of eyes.

Needless to say, neither of those outcomes is very productive.

Now, I don’t think Patriots in Retreat is broken. I think there’s actually a really good story in there, but it needs a little more excavation in certain parts before I can pull the whole thing out in one piece. This was my first time in years experimenting with the cycling process, and I don’t think I did it enough. Next WIP will be another experiment.

Long story short, I will probably have to push this one back another two weeks, which is going to push the release schedule for Sons of the Starfarers back another month. I’ve got another short story I can use to fill in the gap, but it is a bit of a personal disappointment.

Why is it so difficult to keep my own self-imposed deadlines? Am I really that flaky and unreliable? Not in other aspects of my life. Maybe my writing process really does need a complete and fundamental overhaul. Should make for some interesting future posts.

In any case, that’s what I’ve been up to. I really really really want to write a couple of short stories in a universe that may turn into a recurring one, but those will have to wait until Patriots is finished (hopefully early next week). On the publishing side of things, I’ve got a new short story and short story bundle out—more on that tomorrow! Lots of other stuff too, but it’s mostly behind the scenes, so not worth talking much about atm.

Patriots in Retreat will be finished soon, it’s just in the “this sucks and I’m a horrible writer!” phase. Which, hopefully, I’ll find a way to remove from my writing process altogether, because it isn’t healthy. When I figure out how to do that, I’ll let you know.

What it’s like to write after a life interruption

Stage 0: Procrastination

I guess I should write… but first, I should check my email. Also, there’s a couple of publishing tasks I need to do. I’m also kind of hungry, come to think of it.

Wow, those publishing tasks took a lot longer than I thought they would. I could start writing now, but I’d only have half an hour, and what can I possibly get done in that time? Maybe I should just relax for a bit and play this addictive online game…

Stage 1: BIC HOC

All right, no more excuses. It’s butt in chair, hands on keyboard time!

What’s wrong with my chair? Did someone put a magnet in it? It seems like my butt gets repulsed every time I try to sit down in it. I can knock off a couple of paragraphs, but then I have to get up and pace for a while. Or do some chores. Or—

No! I’ve got to focus. But man, it feels like I’m pulling teeth. The words just aren’t coming. It’s been more than an hour, and how much have I written? Holy crap, that’s pathetic.

Well, it’s the end of the day, and I only managed a few hundred words, but that’s better than nothing I guess.

Stage 2: Progress

Is something different? It still feels like I’m pulling teeth, but my writing time is only half over and I’ve already passed a thousand words. Also, that last scene was kind of awesome. I could probably improve it in the next pass, but it turned out better than I thought it would.

I’m still way behind from where I need to be, and I have no idea if I’ll ever make my deadline, but I’m slowly making progress. Not bad. Let’s lie down for a while or go for a long walk and think about what happens next. This is actually turning out to be a pretty good story.

Stage 3: Acceleration

It’s getting late and I really should be doing other things, but I’ve got a great idea for this next scene and I just have to write it.

What’s that? My emails are piling up, and my to do list of publishing tasks has been neglected? Yeah, yeah, I’ll get around to that, but first I really have to knock out this scene. And what if I changed this one three chapters ago to foreshadow it? Then I would also have to change how that one character reacted when the big reveal happened on page 128, and…

Wow, that was incredibly invigorating! I feel like I’m reading this story for the first time. The words are really flying, but that actually doesn’t matter because this next chapter is the big one and I’ve got to focus on that. No time to count how many words I’ve written!

Stage 4: Peak Creativity

I can’t wait to wake up in the morning because the next chapter is going to be totally awesome. I spent my whole shift at the day job thinking about it, and it’s really going to tie the plot and thematic elements together.

What is this character thinking right now? What is it like to be in her shoes? Does this other character have any idea what she’s feeling right now? Is he too caught up in his own concerns? Where did those concerns come from? Obviously, they came from the difficulties in his childhood. Let’s take a few moments to work that out. What’s the story behind how this character came to be who he is today, and how does that impact everything else in the book?

All right, time to take a quick break and refill the creative well. What’s this? A mountainous stack of emails and publishing tasks? Let’s chip away at it for a while, and maybe write a blog post while we’re at it.

Enough for now. Back to writing!

Life Interruption

Oh crap. Time to go back to stage 0 again.

End of May update

So it’s the end of another month, and I’m happy to report that things are going well. Gunslinger to the Stars has had a decent release, and seems to be on its way to grow into its natural readership. I don’t want to push it too hard just yet, better to wait until a few reviews and also boughts come in. But I can push the short story, “Jane Carter of Earth and the Rescue that Never Was.” Will be interesting to see whether that garners interest in the novel.

On the writing front, I’m making good progress on Patriots in Retreat, my current WIP. The plan is to finish the last four Sons of the Starfarers books in quick succession, in order to release them one after another in the beginning of 2018. The covers are all done, and the editing shouldn’t be too expensive, so if I can knock all these books off over the summer, I’ll be in good shape.

The goal is to write each one of them in four weeks, with a week-long buffer between each draft. I’m trying out a new writing method—actually, a method I used to use when I was a kid but laid aside when I wrote my first novel. Instead of writing several distinct drafts, I’m cycling through the previous day’s work in order to produce a more clean first draft.

When I wrote my first novel, the goal was just to finish the thing, so instead of trying to fix all the problems with it as I went along, I prioritized getting to the end. Needless to say, that hot mess of a novel will never see the light of day. But for some reason, I’ve stuck with that method of writing ever since, sometimes to great detriment. Heart of the Nebula took several years to complete because the first two drafts were full of plot holes, worldbuilding inconsistencies, and totally useless characters.

Of course, back then I was a much less experienced writer and needed some emotional distance in order to figure out how to fix my own work. But now, I think I’ve got a pretty good handle of it. So we’ll try out the cycling thing with these books and see how it goes.

I did recently reread the first book, Brothers in Exile. Have to say, it’s not my best work. Not that the story itself is bad, but the writing is pretty poor and needs a good polish. Also, some of the character reactions are off. There’s a bit more melodrama than I’d like, and not enough consistency.

Again, nothing in need of a complete overhaul. Just a touch up. And maybe this is more just a recognition of how much my writing has improved over the last couple of years (at least, I hope that’s what it is). But once the last four books are done, I plan to take a couple of weeks to really touch it up.

In other news, The Sword Keeper, my first fantasy novel, is just about finished and on track for a September release. There’s a couple of issues my first readers have pointed out, but it’s more a question of patching the sails than bringing her into drydock and building a new hull. The next big step after sending it off to the editor is to find a good cover artist. I’ll probably post a classified on Deviantart, see who bites.

I really want an illustrated cover, not one of these photo-realistic things that all tend to blend together (or worse, copy the same stock photos). Those do tend to be a bit more expensive, but for my first fantasy novel, I’m willing to pay a little more.

On the publishing side of things, I’ve got a short story single and a short story bundle lined up for June. It didn’t seem fair to release the one story as a single only to release it a couple months later in a bundle, so I’m doing them both together. The cover is pretty spiffy—I’ll be sure to do a reveal later this week.

And that just about does it. Lots of things to do on the publishing side, lots of stories to write on the writing side, but it’s all coming together and I think you’ll really enjoy how it turns out. Take care!

Another one done!

The Sword Keeper
Phase:3.0 Draft
100%

It’s done! Draft 2.0 of The Sword Keeper is finished. Still need to run it by some test readers, but it’s looking very good for a release this year.

In other news, the power cable for my laptop decided to die. I’ll replace it eventually, but in the meantime, I’m going to try turning my phone into a writing device. Just got a K480 bluetooth keyboard and I’m excited to try it out. My phone is a device I’ve always got with me, so adapting it for writing could be really great.

I’m also going to try a new writing technique that should hopefully lead to cleaner (perhaps even publishable) first drafts. If it works, this could significantly increase my writing output. It involves cycling through yesterday’s words before writing any new ones, getting into the flow and making any changes as necessary. This is actually very close to how I used to write back in high school, before all those college English classes. I also get the sense that this is how Dean Wesley Smith writes.

All sorts of experimental new things going on with my next WIP, which is Edenfall. Yes, it’s time to complete the trilogy. But before I jump into it, I’m going to take some time to do some serious prewriting, in the hopes (again) of writing a clean first draft. Which, if it works, means that the book will be published that much sooner.

In the meantime, Gunslinger to the Stars is almost ready for publication. My editor is working on it now, the cover art is just about finished, and besides that all that’s really left is crafting the book description and metadata. If all goes well, it should be up for pre-order on iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, and Nook before the end of the month.

Also, new short story!

Killing Mister Wilson

Killing Mister Wilson

Every time traveler wants to kill Hitler. Only one actually stopped him.

Yes, I'm a time traveler. Why didn't I go back to kill Stalin? Because in my timeline, there was someone even worse. No, I didn't kill him either. Why? Because sometimes, history's true pivot points aren't where you think they are.
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About the Book

Every time traveler wants to kill Hitler. Only one actually stopped him.

Yes, I’m a time traveler. Why didn’t I go back to kill Stalin? Because in my timeline, there was someone even worse. No, I didn’t kill him either. Why? Because sometimes, history’s true pivot points aren’t where you think they are.

This book is rated T according to the AO3 content rating system.

Details
Author:
Genres: Science Fiction, Short Stories, Time Travel
Tag: 2017 Release
Publication Year: February 2017
Length: Short Story
List Price: .99
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About the Author
Joe Vasicek

Joe Vasicek fell in love with science fiction with Star Wars as a child and hasn't looked back since. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Genesis Earth, Bringing Stella Home, Heart of the Nebula, and the Star Wanderers and Sons of the Starfarers series. As a young man, he studied Arabic at Brigham Young University and traveled across the Middle East and the Caucasus. He currently lives in Utah, which he claims as his home.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. You will not receive any additional charge.