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NaNoWriMo 2013 Mid-Month Update

About three weeks ago, I wrote a post about my plans for my NaNoWriMo project for this year, an Indian space opera story tentatively called The Veergati Codex. I talk about it in some detail here. That post also talked about some of the negative reactions I’ve seen against the entire event, established authors basically deriding the efforts of the “dilettantes” and the “dabblers” since “real authors” write all year, not just for one month a year. Its a fair criticism I guess, but its undeniable that many of the published authors of today are these same dilettantes and dabblers who’ve made it big. I know of at least three currently published authors, from major publishers no less, who took their first steps with a NaNoWriMo event and have reached all the way to where they are now. So the derision this year really rubbed me the wrong way.

But anyway, that’s not what this post is about. In the previous post, I’d said that my goal for this year was to do 30k words instead of the usual 64k+ I’d pulled the last years. With some personal things going on, not to mention some other commitments and my reading, I couldn’t afford to spend that much time on the writing for the event this year. I was all resigned to it too.

But then the first day came, and I was a mean writing machine, if I do say so myself.

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NaNoWriMo 2013 Edition

In just a few short days will begin another Nation Novel Writing Month where tens of thousands of people all over the world will make a head-start on their novel projects, aiming for a monthly word-count of 50,000. Thousands will fall way short. Thousands will make that target, and thousands still will surpass that and end up much higher. From personal experience, its been *relatively* easy for me to break past the goal. In my first year, in 2011, I ended the month with a word-count of 65,866. In my second year, in 2012, I ended the month with 64,001 words committed. But this year, its going to be much different.

There are certain personal things going on that make it a impossible for me to be able to carry on this level of productivity this year. And its not just one thing, its a lot of different things, none of which are the topic of discussion here. Simply put, I’m aiming only for 30,000 words by the end of the month and even then I’m doubtful if I can make it.

No, the topic of discussion here is the reaction of some published authors with respect to this yearly event. To sum, its derision and arrogance and dismissal of the efforts that people make in November every year for this event. And that is something I have a big problem with.

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Manifesto: UF Now On Sale

So it has finally happened for really realz.

As I’ve blogged several times already, I have finally been able to get a short story published. Titled Dharmasankat: Crisis of Faith, this short story is an Indian Urban Fantasy sometime in the 1800s and acts as an origin prequel to my novella Dharmayoddha: Warrior of Faith, for which I’m still hunting for a publisher, without luck. There will be a follow-up novel Dharmachakra: Circle of Faith at some time in the future once I’m done with my current novel WIP Cloak of Secrecy.

Manifesto: UF is now available through Amazon as a digital book. You can purchase it here. I haven’t yet had a chance to read the anthology myself, but I will be correcting that first thing next month, and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve read full novels by several of these authors already and I’ve been fairly impressed with their work. And all props to editors Tim Marquitz and Tyson J. Mauermann for putting this anthology together and taking a chance on an unpublished writer like myself.

I hope that you, the readers, will look favourably on the short story. And even if not, thanks for reading all the same. That’s the least I could ask for.

Cheers, all!

Manifesto UF

2-year Anniversary Special – Dharamayoddha Chapter 1

The 2-year celebrations continue on! I was going to be posting this little sample earlier but some things came up and so I found myself super-busy. Anyways, here it is as promised, with a little bit of an intro to the project itself.

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Dharmayoddha: Warrior of Faith (Teaser)

As per my writing goals for August (mentioned in the July Report), I’m aiming to do at least 3,000 words on this novella. Last night, I crossed the 2,000-word mark and it looks like I’ll hit the stated month goal tonight. What’s surprised me thus far is how easy writing this has been so far. The ideas just flow! I’m revising my goal for August to be ~6,000-words and here’s a teaser from the rough (and incomplete!) first draft of the novella. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! Read the rest of this entry

Half-year Report

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.

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A Year Ends, What Next?

A roller-coaster year is coming to an end. Lots of positives, a few dumb negatives, lots of excitement, lots of cheering and a few disappointments.

To be fair, the year didn’t really start for me until the third week of March. And that’s because it was in the third week of March that I discovered the Bolthole. And once I navigated to this corner of the internet, then everything just spiraled upwards and it has been a hell of a ride.

Finding the Bolthole has been the single-most positive event of the year because it opened me up to a really big world of exciting possibilities and fantastic opportunities. This is around the time I started blogging as well, so that is a huge plus that happened concurrently. The amount of writing I have done this year, at a guesstimate, is somewhere around 200,000 words. That includes blogging, reviewing, various submissions, my Sons of Corax fanfic, Bolthole comps, and my Nano novel among other things.

Jeff Ambrose, over on his blog here, discussed his goals for 2011 and new goals for 2012. His post is, in part, the inspiration and motivation for this post. He mentions his target word-count for the year, which stands at an impressive 400k words and how close he is to accomplishing that.

So it all got me thinking about what I want to do for myself next year. And I have come up with a few tentative things that I would like to accomplish this coming year.

1. I am going to write a full novel submission for Black Library. For the submission itself they want a 6-page chapter breakdown, a 1000-word synopsis and the first 3 chapters clocking in at at least 10k words. My goal is to write the novel in full. Target count is 85,000 words. This will be my Writing Project 1: In The Emperor We Trust. This was originally going to be a Space Marine Battles novel but I have been reliably told that only stories that are mentioned in existing lore qualify for that brand. So ITEWT will be a regular Space Marine novel.

If I can write a 70k novel in 32 days with 2% planning then I can write an 85k novel with 80% planning over the entire year surely!

Total Goal: 85,000 words

2. I am going to write 3 short stories in full for Stories in the Ether. SITE is an anthology of stories set in various different genres that are generally printed online first and later on for digital print and so on. As you can see here, their guidelines are fairly relaxed and very open-ended, which means you can write about anything and everything as long as you conform to their genres: Sci-fi, Fantasy and Steampunk.

What is awesome about Nevermet Press is that the SITE submissions are open throughout the year! Which means that yes, you can submit throughout the year. It is fantastic news. SITE also doesn’t get long-term exclusive rights to your work so you are free to explore other publishers with your work. The details are over on their SITE page.

I already have a short story in the works that is a spin-off prequel story for my Nano novel. Given that SITE short stories need to be no longer than 15k words, that is a lot of wiggle room. My aim for my 3 stories is to clock in at around 10,000 words each.

Total Goal: 115,000 words

3. I currently have 4 chapters to write for my Sons of Corax fanfic for the Bolthole. The goal, given all the things I want to talk about and have planned out in bits and pieces, is to average about 2800 words between the four of them. The fanfic has been ignored for the last month and a half, primarily because first I had Nano to work on and then later in Dec I have just generally been procrastinating.

Lesson to the wise: Procrastinating is bad. Especially when you are watching movies.

But, I plan to shape up this coming year and keep pumping out the stuff for two main reasons. One is that I really, really like doing it. Two, people just plain like what I have been doing. Just the other day someone on Warseer of all places commented to me that they like what I am doing with LL’s 60k setting. That is a major surprise for me since I posted a few initial chapters on the warseer boards a couple months ago and got zero response.

But that’s just the way the cookie crumbles I suppose. More incentive to write something you already like doing is always good.

Total Goal: 126,200 words

4. Black Library submissions. Another year is rolling round and I have a lot of things I have been doodling on and off since June of this year for future stuff. This includes Project: In The Emperor We Trust. I also have plans for a “series” of shorts and novels that are all linked by a very central event. The series is currently 5 short stories and two novels long. I already submitted one of the short stories this year, and since I have yet to hear word of it I am going to go with the assumption that it was rejected.

So that leaves 4 short stories and 2 novels. I am definitely going to focus on the short stories first. And that is purely because short stories can be churned out faster than a novel. With the submission guidelines wanting somewhere in the region of 2500 words an average per short story pitch, that is roughly 10k words to add to my work for the next year. Not too bad. The novels I will see. I want to focus on my current novel project first before I start messing around with another one. But, I would like to get the pitch requirements done with at least which should somewhere be around the 19k mark for each roughly.

Then I have about 3 more short stories I want to submit this year. One of them is a failed short story pitch that I never quite got around to work out. So this coming year I want to rework the whole thing and definitely get that pitch done with.

For now, that is all for the submissions stage of things.

Total Goal: 181,700 words

5. I seriously need to blog more. I don’t get enough blogging done at the moment, mostly because of procrastinating with regards to doing it. And that is when I kind of really do enjoy blogging. Its a good habit to be into, especially if you are a writer, and most of my writing-inclined friends and pretty much most of the authors I know, do blog a fair bit. So that is ample motivation.

Plus, the more you write, the more you learn. So the target is to do 2 blogposts minimum each month. More it kind of depends. I do have a lot on my plate with regards to handling blogs since I am a part of two review sites and I also am the unofficial in-charge for the Bolthole blog as well. I definitely don’t want to over-work, especially since I do want to focus on my writing this year.

Total Goal: 211,700 words

6. The Founding Fields. More book reviews dammit! As we speak, I have a backlog of about 4-5 reviews that need to be done, and that is only increasing as time passes since I just recently finished reading Anthony Reynolds’s third Word Bearers novel, Dark Creed, and I am in the middle of Gav Thorpe’s first HH novel, Deliverance Lost.

Plus, I have now arranged things with Black Library and I am now on their Advance Reviewer’s list. My first package is going to be the March releases which are Horus Heresy: Know No Fear by Dan Abnett, the Iron Warriors Omnibus by Graham McNeill, Path of the Renegade by Andy Chambers and finally Knight of the Blazing Sun by newcomer Josh Reynolds. So that’s going to be a lot of reading.

But that’s not all of course because I am me.

I also signed for Angry Robot‘s Robot Army as an Advance Reviewer and have requested a couple ARCs from them, Empire State by Adam Christopher and Giant Thief by David Tallerman. As per their guidelines, requesting ARC’s guarantees that I need to do reviews, which is totally fine by me. Adam’s novel particularly has been gaining a lot of steam, not in the least because of its frikkin awesome cover. So that’s more work for moi!

First order of business is to clear out my backlog and then get on with all the other reviews I need to do as I finish with the books and short stories. Given that my reviews are like usually in the 1200-1500 range, I’ll just take 1300 as my average for each review and I plan to do 5 reviews at least each month. That should sufficiently keep me on track with my reading and getting through all the BL ARC’s I will be getting throughout the year.

Fun fact: My latest review, which should go up within the next 12 hours, is for Sarah Cawkwell’s first novella, Accursed Eternity, and it clocks in at a perfect 1800 words, making it the biggest one I have done so far.

You can see all my current reviews for TFF here.

Total Goal: 289,700 words

7. 24FPS. Another of my review sites that I am a part of and that gets sort of neglected, again, because of procrastination. I sincerely intend to change that of course. For this also I have a backlog, that is about 4-6 movies big depending on what I really want to do. Just like with my book reviews, I tend to average roughly 1300 words a review and I intend to publish about 2 reviews a month. Movies are a little more difficult to get a hold of obviously, not to mention the time commitment issue but this shouldn’t be too bad. And it should be quite relaxing too if I take a low-key but regimented approach to this.

All my reviews for 24FPS can be found here.

Total Goal: 320,900 words

8. Raven and Blood. Clocking in at 70,219 words this is my first ever completed novel that fits a zero draft description, meaning it is not yet ready for editorial eyes and has a ton of things wrong with it that need to be fixed. But, I am immensely proud that I got this done. But now this youngling needs to be edited to hell and back. Plus I need to draw up a “pitch” for this that approximates what Black Library requires for their submissions. I know that different editors have different requirements and that Black Library is not going to be interested in this but I think the exercise in itself will be quite a challenge.

Of course, I cannot really guesstimate how much work this novel-editing shindig will involve on the writing front because editing in itself is so open-ended, particularly for someone like me who has no real experience with proper editing but I think I can take care of the basics at least. I aim for a final word count of about 95,000 words plus the pitch document which, excluding the chapters themselves, should be about another 4000 words.

Total Goal: 349,900 words

9. Finally, NaNoWriMo. I intend to enter the “competition” again and churn out another novel. Maybe one of those novel submissions I mentioned earlier or something different. I do have an old novel project, my first proper novel project in fact, that was a sci-fi story that is sort of half-finished. It is really amateurish in its current incarnation so I might just end up reworking the whole thing. But still, I aim to at least meet my accomplishment of this year if not better it. So the target is another 70,000-word novel which I hope to then sit down to edit for 2013.

Total Goal: 419,900 words

So umm, yeah, that’s my writing goals for 2012. Its a lot of writing and I am not even sure at the moment if I will actually be able to do all of it. But I know that I could reach all of them if I just focused my efforts and really cut down on procrastinating. That’s like Enemy Number One for me. I am really getting into the groove of writing, I feel, and I just got to work it all so that apathy doesn’t set in. Get all that down and then I can really get some solid writing done.

So what about you folks? What writing goals do you all have for 2012?

The Victory-3 and other things

It is done. Complete. Poora. Finito.

Project Honour that is. The summary and synopsis are as tight as I can get them and the sample is pretty much done as well. It is slightly heavier on the word count, being a little bit over the 1000-word mark but its not an issue since the sample is fairly well-put together and everything flows from A to B. Lots of critique went on for this one and I am quite pleased with the feedback. Never underestimate the importance of feedback. It makes you think of things you never would otherwise, because they seem so obvious to you that you never bother to explain them. That can happen a LOT.

So yeah, value the feedback you get. Big shout-out to all the people who’ve helped me with this one. The Bolthole rocks!

All that remains is to send off the collective sample/summary/synopsis off to BL, which I will do at the end of the month. Going to work on my other shorts now, which brings me to the following. This now nicely brings my completed submissions to number three. A nice round number, which I like, and coincidentally, is half my lucky number, 6.

Project Long Hunt is proving to be quite an elusive beast. I still can’t get the synopsis nailed down even though I know what I want to write about and what the plot is. Its all clear in my head, yet I can’t get any of it down on the screen. Very, very frustrating. Especially since this is my most unique piece in terms of plot and larger ramifications for the characters involved. But, I still have a whole two more weeks to go so I still have time to get it done.

Work has also begun on Project Oath & Duty which is a somewhat related piece to Project Honour, but not directly. It is somewhat like a short story I read recently but not much. It will be quite a dialogue-heavy final piece though, which is going to be a good enough challenge. I am really growing to love this particular faction.

Further on about submissions, I have now finally decided to stop work on Project Salvation, my Deathwatch novel, for this submissions window. I would like to very much get my game on with my short stories rather than my novel. The submission is nowhere near done, and with my current workload from IRL and other things (read below), I am not so sure I can get it done in time and still have it be of good quality. And like Long Hunt, I still don’t have a proper and clear synopsis down in my head, let alone on paper. So yeah, that’s that.

Which reminds me. NO WAY  ONLY FOURTEEN DAYS LEFT! Actually thirteen for me since I am not counting the last day. I will be submitting my shorts before midnight on July 30. Just to be safe.

Sadly, I’ve been procrastinating a fair bit though. And the source of this soul-sucking activity is Lord of Ultima. Click on the link to find out more about it. Essentially this is a free MMO from EA that involves empire-building in the form of cities, armies, trade, and resource management. It is quite an involved game, especially once you get past the rookie stage and into the big leagues. Which is where I am now, or rather, quite a bit past that. For the interested, I play on world 19 (Empire score currently 105k+) mostly with a little tampering on world 29 (Empire score currently 61k+), under the name shadowhawk20. Thanks to Christian Dunn, the friendly neighbourhood BL editor for recommending this game. And curses too, for the distractions 😀

Anyways, moving on.

I have now finished reading Victories of the Space Marines and Legends of the Space Marines. Extremely impressed with the quality of short stories in the former, not so much from the latter.

The entirety of Victories is an absolute gem of awesome ass-kicking, bolter-action, xenos-killing and deeper stuff. If I have to nominate one short from this anthology for some kind of an award, it has to be Ben Counter’s Sacrifice, which features our favourite Grey Knight, Justicar Alaric, and is about the sacrifices the Imperium makes to protect itself. Absolutely amazing, grimdark, 40k short story that is perfect in the setting.

Since I made a point last time to mention how excited I was to read Sarah’s Primary Instinct, got to say that I wasn’t disappointed one bit with it. I knew the larger story of course because of reading spoilers on Warseer, but it was still fun to read. Very enjoyable. Would love to read more from her.

In comparison, Legends mostly fell flat on its face. Only two of the stories can compare to the quality of those found in Victories: The Returned by James Swallow of Blood Angels fame, and At Gaius Point by Aaron Dembski-Bowden of Night Lords fame. Mr Swallows continues the tale of Tarikus from Black Tide, giving his story a proper closure for the moment while the newly married Aaron took something sacred to the Blood Angels and their successors, and gave it a very gripping, tense, and rewarding execution. The Flesh Tearers are quickly rising high on my list of favourite Space Marine chapters.

I firmly give Ben Counter’s Twelve Wolves an honourable mention as well. It is about two Space Wolves fighting off an invasion of their homeworld by renegade Imperial/Ecclesiarchy forces. Absolutely brilliantly done and focusing something that has largely been an obscure part of the chapter’s background. Ben Counter seems to be going from strength to strength recently and I love his work. His Grey Knight novels featuring Justicar Alaric are some of my favourites from BL. You can follow and pester him on twitter @BenCounter.

The Science-Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America did a recent guest post on their site titled: 60 Rules for Short Science-Fiction and Fantasy, which you can find here. There are some interesting points there, and a few I agree with and some I don’t agree with. I’ll let you read them and form your own opinions of them, but just keep in mind that while these may be some good guidelines for writing general SF/F, some of them do not really apply to writing for Warhammer 40,000. I haven’t attempted to write anything for Warhammer Fantasy so I won’t comment on that but I trust it is the same for both settings.

That’s all for now people. Stay tuned.