It’s That Special Time of Year Again …

Ah, what a wondrous time of year it is! Calculators are being dragged out, receipts are checked, and math skills are brushed up on. Everywhere you can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth  of … oh, wait a moment.

There’s nothing wondrous about this at all. It’s tax season. I got my wires crossed. My mistake.

Yes, it’s tax season again. Hooray.

Okay, so some of you are probably slightly puzzled. Maybe you’ve not done taxes before (I know I have some young readers), or maybe you’re thinking “Eh, you’ve got a few months, right?”

Nope. See, I’m self-employed. My taxes are due March 1st. Which is very soon in tax terms.

Also, being self-employed really means you don’t get to see a lot of the safety nets others do. Like standard deductions. They’re there, but they don’t take nearly as much effect. To put this another way … I’ve never gotten a tax return in my life. Well, save that one time I accidentally wrote the IRS a check for a dollar more than I was supposed to.

In other words, the dawning of another tax season means another nice hit to my bank account. Glad I’ve managed to save a little money this year, because it’s about to disappear.

I wouldn’t be so annoyed about it if I wasn’t well below the poverty line. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not begging for cash here. I’m living within my means, limited as they are. But dang, you’d think being so far below that line would matter … but no, it really doesn’t.

Is there a point to this post? Well, as of this moment, not really. I’m just griping. Darn tax season. There, that was the last one. But I probably should provide something other than a cautionary … Huh … You know, discussing finances and some of the differences of being a Self-Employed Author would probably make for a good Being a Better Writer post. I’m making a note of that now.

Right, anyway, other news and stuff. First of all, let’s hit the big elephant in the room. Well, at least, for me: Colony.

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Biting Off More Than I Can Chew?

Almost.

Yes, I’ve been fairly quiet over the last two or three weeks outside of the Being a Better Writer posts. And the reason for that is that I’ve been keeping very busy.

How busy? In the last week and a half, despite having family in town and pulling hours at my part time job, I’ve managed not only to get both BaBW posts done and up, but also 20,000+ words done on Jungle.

That’s right, the sequel to Colony. Am I going to spoil anything for you guys yet? No, not at all, except to say you’re all in for a lot of surprises. Yesterday I got partway through chapter three, so it appears that any worries that Jungle would be shorter than Colony are going to be fairly unfounded. I don’t know how long it will be, but at this point I’d expect it to be around a similar length.

I’d better get it done fast, too. The demand for more in the wake of Colony is strong. By the way, if you haven’t read Colony yet, you really should. It’s sitting at a 4.7 star rating on Goodreads and a 4.8 star rating on Amazon, with stellar reviews in both places.

So, that’s been eating into my time. As has my part-time job (which, naturally, really wants more time out of it than I can afford to give). And family visiting. I love to see them, but work grinds to a halt while they’re here.

But I’ve had other things digging into my time as well. Life, The Universe, and Everything (LTUE) is coming up as well, and I’m trying to determine which panels to apply for (new system this year, apparently). And tomorrow, being the weekend, I get to sit down and do beta editing for Tirek is Doomed, plus start setting up Alphas for Discord Day Care and Shadow of an Empire.

Plus other life obligations … Patreon supporter stuff, DnD campaign, etc, etc …

Basically, I’m making this post to say “Yes, I’ve been quiet, but it’s only because I’m really keeping busy! Really!”

And it’s true. And right now, I’m cutting this post short because I’ve got a bunch more things to do today in addition to putting at least another 3,000 words onto Jungle‘s first draft before my night-shift tonight.

So, what can you expect?

Patreon supporters are going to see a post soon, for January, December, and November. Likely it will be a chapter or two of Shadow of an Empire. A sort of teaser, if you will, of what’s coming.

Fanfic readers will be seeing Tirek is Doomed before long, and will start getting more info on Discord Day Care.

Colony will continue to sell well, continue to get glowing reviews, and continue to be an absolute blast of a Sci-Fi book. I’m getting reviews calling it ‘the best Sci-Fi [the reviewer] has read in years’ and comparing its originality and level of amazement to Ender’s Game.

Yes, that Ender’s Game.

Anyway,  for future reference, I’m probably going to scale back the number of projects I tackle at once, just to keep things a bit easier to handle and the pipeline a bit more streamlined.

And now? I have work to do, so away to my keyboard. Which is actually right here, I’m just going to swap windows and—

2016 in Review—What’s My Progress So Far?

Sands and storms, it’s time for one of these already? Even more alarming, this nears marking the the third anniversary of Unusual Things?

Boy, the days really fly, don’t they?

Well, it is what it is. Time marches on. Which means that once again it’s time to take a look back at my goals, accomplishments, and the like during this year and see what I’ve gotten done. It’s time to put 2016 under the microscope and look at some hard data.

Honesty? I expect that I got less writing done this year … though I published more, and definitely worked just as hard. It’s just a byproduct of what I worked on. 2015 was lots and lots of writing, while 2016 ended up being the year I published a lot of that writing. Which meant that I spent a lot of time trapped in the editing process.

Plus, I started working a second job every week to make ends meet, which also cut into my writing time.

I mean, that’s not bad. But both definitely slowed my pace, and while my “total” word count for productivity stayed pretty good (remember, I count editing as a 20% wordcount for tracking reasons), my actual wordcount for words written probably dropped for the year.

Granted. Next year I think I may see a bit more equilibrium. Maybe. Right now I’ve only got one book in editing, and one that I’m working on. Then again, next year may be a repeat of this year: two releases, lots of editing.

I guess I’ll find out. For now though, let’s take a look at 2016.

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So … Now What?

First things first: In case you missed it—which I’ve tried my hardest to prevent—Colony is now available for pre-order and will release on November 11th!  It’s here, it’s ready to be read, and it is awesome.

Which, since Colony has been the end-all-be-all of my last few months, begs the question: What now? After all, Colony is done, it’s coming out … so now what? What’s next?

That’s right, it’s time for a general roadmap post. Because my work isn’t stopping now that Colony is done. No, I took a few days to relax and celebrate the completion of another book, but I can’t rest on my laurels, no matter how tempting that may sound. I need to set some goals, and them keep working towards them.

Of course, some goals work better when those around you know that you’re working towards them. Which is part of the reason for this post. It’s a nice little bit of motivation in the back of my head if I know that my audience has already been told “I’m working on this.”

But that little extra motivational boost isn’t the only reason. I also want you guys to know what’s coming down the pipe! What you can look forward to. The last thing I want is for one of my long-time readers to know that Colony is about to come out but have nothing else to set in their mind to look forward to.

Hence this post. The roadmap. What I’m up to, and what’s coming in the next few weeks and then months.

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Colony Update! + News

60,000 words.

That’s how little I have left to edit on  this Alpha pass of Colony. 60,000 words. Considering the story itself is 333,000 words, that’s not much. A day or two worth of work, no more. Then I’ve got to run through and make some noted changes to air pressure in a few marked chapters, and then …

Then I move to Beta. Which means those of you that are former Beta Readers can expect to see a message from me soon, while those of you who aren’t may see a post looking for additional beta readers up here on the site, looking for those I know are good for it.

The point to all of this is, however, that Colony is getting close to being ready for release. Sometime in the next week or two I’ll probably start work on the cover, and once I’m officially in Beta I’ve got to figure out some other things to. Such as “Do I split this titan of a story into two ‘parts’ so that readers can buy a cheaper chunk rather than the whole thing at once and then sell a ‘combo’ book that’s both alongside it? Or do I just sell the book?”

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Being a Better Writer: Micro-Blast #3

Yep! Another Tuesday BaBW post. While this has been the standard for the last three weeks, I don’t think I work this next Monday, so hopefully I’ll be able to break this chain and get back to posting these on their usual time. Granted, I could write them ahead of time … but the other blog I post these on doesn’t allow for scheduling, so it’d just end up fragmenting my reading base more than it already is, and since I’ve been working on the days I would normally write these in advance …

Anyway, I’m doing what I can. I’ve also noted, however, that my blog postings have really slowed lately. Especially since starting my job. The frequency of my postings has dropped about 50%. Which isn’t great. I’ll see if I can get some more posting done to keep everyone more up to date, even as I work on finishing the first draft of Shadow of an Empire and move Colony towards Beta.

Right, now, on to today’s posting! Today I’m clearing out some of the more short, easy answers from my topic list, which means it’s time for another micro-blast! Number 3 (1 and 2 can be found at those links, respectively). Micro-blasts are when I have a selection of topics up that are good questions … but aren’t necessarily worth long, drawn-out answers. It’s not that the questions are bad, but that the topic is usually precise enough that the answer can be a paragraph or two rather than a longer, in-depth explanation. So rather than give a shorter BaBW post, I collect several of these shorter, simpler questions together in one post and tackle them altogether.

Right, now that the explanation’s out of the way, let’s get to answering!

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Being a Better Writer: Fanfiction – School or Crutch?

Don’t forget, Unusual Events: A “Short” Story Collection is out now!

This post was originally written and posted January 19th, 2015, and has been touched up and reposted here for archival purposes.

Welcome back, everyone! It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it’s the beginning of another week, and I’ve got news. Some good news. Good news I won’t give you the details of yet, (as I’m still waiting on a few specific ones) but still pretty good news. Okay, really good news. I’ll give you more later this week, but for now, let’s just say those of you who like going to conventions may want to keep February 12th-14th clear on your calenders.

Alright, that’s that. Now, without any further ado, let’s get to this week’s topic of choice! Fanfiction!

So, this topic might seem a little odd to a few of you, but it’s actually based on a question I’ve been asked several times over the last few weeks, both by those that write fanfiction and those who don’t. A lot of prospective writers—even those who have been writing fanfiction for some time—seem to have a question that goes something like this: Is fanfiction really the best place for me to be practicing and building my talents? Or am I wasting my time, or perhaps being less productive than I would normally otherwise be?

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