Writing Fuel

As I do my best to write write more regularly, I’m trying to identify those things that spark my muse and get my imagination working, and those things that actively hinder those things. I know, I know, you can’t always rely on your muse to write, or else you’re just waiting on the fickle little bitch to get off the couch and get to work. That’s a one way ticket to ‘no finished book land’.

So, here’s a few of the things that work to get the creative juices flowing in me, and those things that I must absolutely avoid. Continue reading…

2014 in Review

I don’t know about you, but its been a pretty good year in House Swanson. We went to Phoenix Comic-con and had a blast with the Edge of December crew, despite the state being filled to the brim with creatures whose only purpose is to kill. I’m not even talking about the con attendees. I can not fathom how people have cities in a place where you might have a scorpion in your shoes in the morning. It might be there, or not. A venomous surprise first thing. Schroedinger’s scorpion. I remember we went out to swim in the pool one night, and Glenn was looking around for something near the pool, and he said, “Be careful, there’s some black widows over here,” like I might say, “Hey, there’s some ice on that stair.” *shiver* The two are NOT EQUIVALENT!

Katie and I moved into a nice new house. Its been a great little house so far, and we’re looking forward to staying there for a few more years before we’re ready to actually buy a house and settle down somewhere.

I completely recoded and revamped WordKeeperAlpha and launched it in … August, I think. Since then I’ve gone from about 5 users on the old system to over 250 at last count. Prior to the new version being launched I got maybe 5 hits a day, most of those from some dumb web crawler out of the Netherlands…which I’m still trying to figure out how to ban from my sites completely. Jerks. I digress… Now I’m clocking in at nearly 40 hits per day, and as many as 80! Its really kind of awesome that people are actually using this thing that I made. I know that I’ve said that before, but I really thought that I’d be fortunate if 100 people ever found it, let alone used it on a regular basis.

I got started with a new writing group, well, just one patient person who’s helping me with Impervious, as I’m helping them with their project… at least, I hope I am. Still, its good to be in a writing group again.

Impervious is coming right along, even if the second draft isn’t done yet. I’d hoped to have that done by the end of the year, but I’m at least still making progress. I’ve got a nice week and a half before I have to go back to work, and I’m going to be using that time to punch in a few more words before the years over and to get a nice head start on 2015. I’ve got some grander goals for 2015: getting my second draft finished, the third draft started and finished, starting the second draft of the second book, and using NaNoWriMo to get a jump start on the third book in the trilogy … if its a trilogy, I’m not sure yet.

I didn’t finish NaNoWriMo this year, only clocking in at 25,000 words. Am I disappointed? A little. But, it seems like NaNo is going to be more for punching out most of a first draft than working on second drafts. I’ve been much more picky working on the second draft of Impervious, which is why it hasn’t been coming along quite as fast as the first draft did.

I was hoping that I’d be able to write at least 180,000 words in 2014, but I ended up getting about 120,000 done. I still feel pretty good about that, mostly because of everything I was able to get done with WordKeeperAlpha. I’m not really going to be talking about my goals for 2015 right now, I’ll get into that in a different post at the start of 2015, but I am going to be putting more focus on both reading more books and writing.

So. 2014. I didn’t get in shape. I didn’t finish the second draft of Impervious. I did kick ass at making WordKeeperAlpha. I’m happy, healthy (relatively speaking) and not wanting for anything other than more hours in the day to do more stuff. I think I’m going to call 2014 a success, and work on making 2015 an even better year. Here’s to all of you lovely people, hoping you had a great year, and the coming one will treat you better still. Happy New Years, folks!

NaNoWriMo 2014 Postmortem

Well, ladies and gentleman, November is over and its time to look back upon it and gaze upon my fine works.  Courtesy of WordKeeperAlpha here is how I did this month!

NaNo 2014

Final word count for the month was 24438 words, just about half of the required 50,000.  Do I feel bad? Maybe a little, but not as much as I might for past years.  I’ve won two years in a row so far and produced first drafts that needed to be all but rewritten before I felt comfortable showing them around.  This year I was working on the second draft of Impervious, which I found out was perfectly legal to do, (legal for the official NaNo rules) provided I was writing all new words and not just editing existing ones.  Turns out, pounding out that crap first draft is a whole lot easier than pounding out 50,000 words that you actually don’t mind showing people.  While I didn’t hit that lofty goal, I did manage to get a fair chunk of the next draft finished and am now sitting on 11 finished chapters and will be starting in on chapter 12 … well, soon as I figure out what the hell I need to happen in chapter 12.  Still, the writing will go on.

Unfortunately, this means that I’m not going to be able to get the second draft done by the end of the year, which is going to change the date when the third draft gets done, yadda yadda yadda.  What do you expect?  I’m an author and we are a shiftless and lazy bunch.  Still, I’m going to get this sucker wrapped up in 2015 and get the second draft of the sequel started on, with the goal of writing the first draft of part 3 next November.  Big plans, I know, but I think I can hack it.  This year I managed just over 100,000 words, AND created the new and much improved WordKeeperAlpha.  In 2015 I want to average around 15k a month, while still pushing out updates.  It should be doable, seeing as how most of the core functionality is already in place and I’ll just be making regular updates and new feature releases.  How did I do this year? Why, WKA knows that too!

WordKeeper graph for 2014

Yeah, November kind of kicked the rest of the months’ collective asses.  August absolutely sucked in terms of writing, and so did September, but that’s when I was really focusing on getting WKA pushed out.  Still, next year, more writing every month should let me get a considerable amount done.  I’m looking forward to it.  Impervious is really coming right along and I’m excited to show it to people.  I’m not writing December off either … well, I will be writing but… you know what I mean.  Shut up.  No, you shut up!

*pausing for Seth’s post NaNo psychotic break* 

Whubba?  Oh, right.  Sorry, I had a little moment there.  I think my cold meds are starting to kick in.  I’m going to go lie down for a bit.  I’ll be back soon with some new WordKeeperAlpha news as well as the awesome thing that happened halfway through November regarding my little abomination of code and graphs.  Later.

August: The month of where I guess I don’t write

Granted, its been a very mild summer, but August is still a helluva reason to keep inside. Which is good! I don’t write or code very well outside. Trust me, I’ve considered it, even tried it a time or two but it just doesn’t work out well. The glare on the iPad impairs writing, or the bugs are distracting, or the heat is soul-crushing. No no. I was made to be an indoor creature. Melding into my seat and becoming one with the machine. Beep boop beep.

So, we’re 21 days into August now and I still have yet to put finger to keyboard in any sort of writing. While normally, this would constitute a soul-crushing failure on my part, its mostly because I’ve been pouring effort onto WordKeeperAlpha to get it done and out this month. The great news is that I should be able to do just that! The bad news is that every time I look at my writing graph I see THIS:

Graph of no writing


Ugh… that flat line accuses me. It mocks me. Moreover, the characters from Impervious are bouncing around in my head, leading rebellions and killing each other every time I start listening to music. Once WordKeeper is out, I won’t be looking at it for a month. I’m going to set myself a nice big writing goal and go to town on it.  It’s about time to start gearing up for NaNaWriMo at any rate.  I’ve got a lot of words to write before the year is over, and I should be able to do that a lot easier with WordKeeper finished, or at least the base features done.

While I’m cleaning up the remaining code and polishing things off, I’m also identifying the next set of features that I’ll be working on and rolling out over the coming months.

  • Blog integration
  • Rewards for completing goals
  • Challenges (1k in an hour) (Don’t know how in the hell I’m going to do that one)
  • Trophies and XP (for more gamification)
  • Author pages so that you can share your progress

I’ve seen a few other projects that are doing some of the things that I’m doing, but no one is really focusing on motivation and word metrics like I am.  I really think that if I can get WordKeeper going and get it a following that I can keep it the best motivational tool for writers our there.  I suppose I have to make it that first, don’t I?  *sigh* Its back to work then, I guess.  At least, after a nice walk in this beautiful August weather.

WordKeeperAlpha Update: Where its been and where its going.

Its been a while since I posted anything specific on WordKeeperAlpha, so I thought I’d update everyone on exactly how its going and how far away 2.0 is.

During the course of development last week I noticed that I had ten more users than I had previously noted which is both encouraging and disappointing.  Encouraging because that’s easily twice the people than were previously signed up!  That’s awesome.  Discouraging because all of them are getting their first Impressions of WordKeeper from the ugly ass old version.  Lets take a second to compare.  This is the current main page:


Old Landing

This is what its going to look like as soon as I hit publish in a month or three:

New Home Page

This is what I have for graphing right now:

Old Graphing

Blech! Right?  It doesn’t even actually work.  I thought it worked for a little while, then around the time I was designing the new version I noticed that it never changed, never kept up… It was broken to the core.  WordKeeper 2.0 is going to start off with 4 graphs!  Not 2.  Not 3.  But 4!   They’re not powered by some crappy code that I just threw together, but powered by Highcharts, an awesome javascript graphing library that I’m acquiring at no small cost to myself.  I mean that… That shit is expensive, but you guys are worth it.  Here are the graphs you’ll see right at the beginning:

New Graph 1 Yearly Graph
Monthly Goal Graph

I’ve gone mildly crazy in the data generation for those bad boys, and you’ll be able to do a lot of neat things with them that you can’t see in a jpeg.  Enough of that though.  Next up is goals!  Goals is the section of the site that I’m currently working on and just got the initial code working for.  Here’s how the goals look right now:

Old Goals

This is the new hotness!

Goals and Projects

Yes, I used the word ‘hotness’.  Shut up.  I’m excited.   I’m still working on a few of the features for the new goals, but already they are much better than the old ones.  Soon, you’ll be able to update your other goals automatically, or individually (which is a huge pain.)   Once I have the bugs worked out of goals I’ll tackle Projects, which will be a beast all on its own.  You can see what to expect up above.

Unfortunately, I still have a ton of work left to do.  A lot of the code is working only in the sense that I know how to use it without breaking things, so there’s going to be a lot of debugging.

Now, for all of my current users, I have an important question.  I’m sick of the old version being online, generally being ugly and not up to my new standards.  What would you think if I put up version 2.0 in beta form BEFORE I get the Projects code done?  I’d essentially be turning you all into beta testers, but you’d honestly get a LOT more utility out of it, even if I were to put it up now.  I’m certainly willing to work with you and set up projects for you behind the scenes (until the code works).  I’d ask that you report any errors that you find, but it would probably speed up development and final deployment a LOT…and it would get the eyesore that is WKA 1.0 off the internet.  I’d really like to know, so please, post a comment here if you have an opinion.

P.S. Sorry about any breakage that the current WKA is suffering.  Publishing the new version will help with that! 😉