June 30th came to a close a few days ago, and with it ended the first half of this year. There were a lot of things on my plate that needed getting done for June which, combined with the fact that I had to take a an entire week off writing for a work-related trip, meant that this was going to be an absolutely jam-packed month.
Given my usual levels of procrastination and that week-long trip, June turned out to be almost as good as May (May Report). I did get a few things done and I’m really looking forwards to how July turns out. The month also ended on a high, as you’ll read below after the break.
To do a small recap of my goals for the year,
- Write ~420,000 words of both fiction (various submissions and novel projects) and non-fiction (reviews and blogposts).
- Read 200 novels, comics, novellas, stand-alone short stories (still not sure if these SHOULD be included) and listen to some audio dramas.
At the end of April, I was still pretty ahead of things having done close to ~192,000 of those ~420,000 words and was still ahead on the reading goals, as I was at 97/200 on April 30th.
2012 Writing Challenge
- Project: In The Emperor We Trust – The goal for the month was to finish this project. The submissions window was going to end on June 30th and, hell or high water, this project needed to be completed and sent off by then. *drumrolls* The project was sent off on time, midnight on 28th, with the final submissions draft clocking in at ~19,000-words. Its been a rather trying experience all told. I did nearly as many rewrites this month as the last, but they were focused more on the novel synopsis than the sample chapters themselves; I rewrote the entire synopsis about twice I think. Getting it down from a highly-detailed 16 pages down to just 4 was a real test of patience and a herculean effort and I still don’t know how I pulled it off. It seemed impossible when I began. The original plan for this project was to write the entire novel in full by the end of the year. Looking back on it, that was a daft idea. As much as it pains me to say it, it would have been an exercise in futility as I have no guarantee of the submission even getting a second look-over by the editors. So why waste time writing a tie-in fiction piece that may not get published instead of working on original fiction that I could at least self-publish if I didn’t have success with traditional publishing? yeah, I’m ignoring a lot of the nuance of the argument for both sides here but I feel that my efforts are better dedicated to NOT worrying about writing this novel in full until it is picked up. Also, I changed the name of the novel to Faith’s Retribution when I sent it off. In TheEmperor We Trust just didn’t seem quite as fitting based on the 4-page synopsis.
- Project: The Price of Failure – Polish, polish, polish. That’s what June was about for this project. The sample needed very little changes to it, a few words here and there both before and after I read a few 1st person POV short stories from Black Library, to get a feel for the style. I hope that my final draft of the sample is just as exciting for the editors to read. My fingers are crossed for this one. Sent it off on the last day actually so it was undoubtedly in the last batch of stories that they received. Anyways, another project signed off on for the year, makes me happy!
- The Founding Fields – As I mentioned in the May Report, the goal for June was 8-10 reviews, a goal that I met on time and just about surpassed. I wrote 11 reviews to the tune of ~18,000-words (1,636-words per review). Both numbers are slightly smaller as I wrote two rather small reviews than usual. Otherwise, this was a fun month. Some of my reviews received great feedback from the authors and, in the case of Obsidian & Blood by Aliette de Bodard, praise from Darren Turpin who handles Angry Robot’s marketing/publicity and it seems that a print copy of the omnibus is now on its way to me. Super-hyped for that one! A few standout reviews were – Warlord of Mars Volume 1 by Arvid Nelson, New 52: Batman #1-10 by Scott Snyder, and Valkia the Bloody by Sarah Cawkwell. It also so happens that the Obsidian & Blood review was preceded by a guest post courtesy Aliette: “Writing Convincing Non-Western Fantasy“. The reason I mention this is because this one is, to date, my most viral guest post. Within 24 hours of this going live, it had been retweeted at least 50 times that I could see on my feed. I can only imagine the response from Aliette’s bloglink! A slight technical glitch on the site means I can’t check the numbers but its safe to say that this has been the most popular guest post on The Founding Fields period. So a good month yeah! Goal for July is same as before, 8-10 reviews at ~1400 average.
- 24FPS Movie Reviews – Well, I was hoping that June would be different than May but alas, it was not to be. Wrote only one review again: Prometheus 3D. And I was disappointed with the movie too. Pretty disappointed. Once again, I wanted to write more reviews but its just that sitting down to write movie reviews takes a lot of effort sadly. Maybe its the fact that I don’t get any recognition for those, like I do with my book/comic reviews (and even these are seriously lacking at times but that’s another post). Me and Paul write the reviews but aside from the pageviews counter going up every day, little else happens. Maybe that’s the problem. How we change that, I have no idea. Anyways, onwards and upwards for July!
- The Blog – Not as slow a month as May but the wordcount wasn’t there. Not that I cared about that so much this time around as I’m already way ahead of the curve on this one! Other than the May Report, I posted first about Skyrim Parodies, a crowd-funding drive organised by Twitter friend Kristen Nedopak who is looking to make several more live-action parodies for the video game Skyrim. The project didn’t hit its mark, only $5500 out of $8500, but that hasn’t stopped Kristen or her team from making this as awesome a project as any. I should be able to bring you up to speed on the first of these parodies before the San Diego Comic Con, which is from July 12-15. My second post was Ideas and Execution, in which I talked about two of my upcoming projects, one of which I’ll hopefully get a headstart on this month. And then there was a repost of my editorial on The Founding Fields from last month, From The Reviewers To The Authors. Once again, onwards and upwards!
- The Bloghole – Not much happened this month, unless you count the interview I did with my top favourite Black Library author, James Swallow. It was a cracking read and I’m really stoked that he took the time to answer all the questions. This is more pimpage rather than part of the writing challenge really.
- NEW! Project: Hammer of Shadows – Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before on the blog, under the title “Ravennok” but this is a short story I’m going to be working all month this July and getting it ready to be sent off to publishers, a small list of which you can find under the “Writing Markets” (under the still-not-updated “Writing Projects” page) link up top.
- NEW! Project: Dharmayoddha – In my Ideas and Execution post I referred to an Indian-mythology inspired urban fantasy I wanted to write this year. The plan for that involves writing a prequel novella first, which I’m calling Dharmayoddha, Crusader in English. The novel itself, Dharmachakra, Wheel of Life, will be written later. The plan for July is to work on the synopsis for this and start the writing in August. This is also part of a novella-anthology project I’m planning with a couple friends (more details on this later) and I’m quite looking forward to seeing the entire project take shape.
I rather like how June turned out regardless. Some really, really exciting times ahead. Things at work are expected to pick up pretty soon, probably as early as tomorrow, so I’m not quite sure how things will pan out but I’m hopeful of meeting all my writing targets. In total, the writing for June amounted to ~31,300-words, which is less than May’s total of course, but I’m quite satisfied with it. This brings the year’s total to ~225,200-words which puts me ever closer to my year’s target of ~420,000-words. I’m getting there slow and steady!
Also, one of the reviews I wrote last month will be posted on my friend Stefan’s book blog, Civilian Reader. It is titled “Before Watchmen Part 1” and in it I review the first issues of the four mini-series that have been released so far: Silk Spectre #1, Minutemen #1, Comedian #1 and Nite Owl #1. Stay tuned to Twitter and Facebook, I’ll update you all once it is published.
2012 Reading Challenge
May was great, but June was better! I read a lot of comics and trades this month, across a variety of publishers and settings and characters and it’s been rather thrilling. There were a few downers too but then there’s always some. I try not to let them get me down too much and it seems I usually succeed. So not gonna complain. One thing is that I didn’t read as many novels as I would have liked, and that made picking my monthly top-picks somewhat easy.
But I’m still happy as I finally took the plunge headfirst with stepping out of my comfort zone. I’m referring to reading Particle Horizon by Selso Xisto and Obsidian & Blood by Aliette de Bodard. When I talk about comfort zones, with the former I’m referring to reading a self-published author I have never heard of before (and finishing the novel to boot!), while with the latter I’m referring to reading a fantasy series set in an entirely non-western fantasy setting, the Aztecs of old in this case.
In both cases, its been a rewarding experience and I’m looking to explore further in both areas. I’ve started and now I can’t stop!
The counter now reads 124/200, putting me ever closer to my big goal. The thing however is that I read a lot of single issues in June and that serves to artificially inflate the counter. A single issue is like 30-36 pages, a short story in page-length; and I’m already unsure about counting short stories. Ah well. I have a solution though.
In light of all this, I’m increasing the counter by 25%, so now the yearly goal is 250 rather than 200. Depending on how the next two months work out, I may increase yet further by another 25% to 300. Here are the top picks for the month of June:
Top 3 – Particle Horizon by Selso Xisto (the first in a series I hope!), Valkia the Bloody by Sarah Cawkwell (only her second published novel but even more awesome than the first!), and Obsidian & Blood by Aliette de Bodard (this collects all the Acatl novels published by Angry Robot Books and the short stories that were published through various magazines).
Honourable Mentions – Angel of Fire by William King (the first in a new trilogy, The Macharian Crusade), Brave New World #1: Revolution by Matt Forbeck (this the first novel in his 12-for-12 writing campaign/challenge and is quite a decent novel!), and Skein of Shadows by Marsheila Rockwell (the second in her The Shard Axe series; I must get the first one now!).
Top 3 [Comics]: New 52: Batman #1-10 by Scott Snyder (absolute cracker of a read!), Warlord of Mars Volume 1 by Arvid Nelson (stunning stuff), and Magic: The Gathering – Spell Thief #1 by Matt Forbeck (Seriously, I’m overdosing on the Forbeck each month, but don’t tell him that!).
Honourable Mention [Comics]: Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre #1 by Darwyn Cooke and Amana Conner (While I really liked Minutemen #1 by Darwyn Cooke, when picking for the list, SS was totally bullying me!), New 52: Wonder Woman #1-10 by Brian Azzarello (I actually didn’t like #10 but for consistency’s sake I included it here), and G.I.Joe Cobra Command Volume 1 by Chuck Dixon (this was a rip-roaring read!).
Rather even stuff there, although looks like DC Comics won it out in the comics section. In terms of nostalgia though, I’d have to say that G.I.Joe Cobra Command Volume 1 was much more of a fun read and so IDW Publishing wins instead! The Reading Awards page has been appropriately updated with June’s top picks.
Finally, I just want to say that I’m quite enjoying reviewer’s access to IDW. Call me biased or whatever, but man, is it fun to go through the server.
Posted on July 2, 2012, in 2012 Reading Challenge, 2012 Writing Challenge, 24FPS, Bolthole, Book Reviews, General, In The Emperor We Trust, Monthly Reports, Original Work, Review Central, Submissions, The Founding Fields and tagged 2012 Reading Challenge, 2012 Writing Challenge, Angels of Retribution, Before Watchmen, Bolthole, Book Reviews, Comics, Dark Horse Comics, DC Comics, G.I.Joe, IDW Publishing, In The Emperor We Trust, Iron Lords, Magic The Gathering, Matt Forbeck, Movie Reviews, Nostalgia-trip, Project Dharmayoddha, Project Hammer of Shadows, Project The Price of Failure, Reading, Writing. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.