Time to get started … again.

Hello every one. Well, the holiday break is over and its time to get started on my goals for this year. Before we get to that, I'm happy to report that I got plenty of work done on WordKeeper; finishing design on several new form elements, partially working out what I want to do with the social aspect and getting started on the actual code that will make the whole thing run. It's still got a ways to go before its ready to see daylight, but when it does it will be pretty awesome. The initial release was alwasy intended to be something more of an alpha version anyway; just me tossing ideas at a wall and seeing what worked and what didn't. This will be much closer to what I wanted to do and then some. Granted, my design work leaves a lot to be desired, but I'm hoping that it will be functional more than anything else.

If this version of WordKeeper works, and I can actually manage to get it a little traction with a good user base, I've got long term plans for a version 3.0 where I get a professional designer to tackle the user interface, produce some actual artwork and assetts for me. Right now though? I'm a LONG ways away from being able to afford something like that.

Today I'm taking for my first official writing day of the year. I'm putting my story from NaNoWriMo on the back burner for the time being, while I focus on getting the second draft of Impervious done and work on the writing for Edge of December. My big goal for the year is to finish Impervious and get it to a point where I can either self-publish or start sending it off to publishers. I've got a lot to do with it before then, so its time to get working.

This year I also want to do some additional short story work, maybe try another couple submissions or even try putting something up on WattPad and start getting my name out there a little more. Last year was a great year, but I still wasn't as productive as I wanted to be. That being said, I'm going to focus on building what I started last year and really pushing myself to do more. Video games are great and all, but they aren't getting me anywhere closer to my goals, so I'm going to try limiting my time spent playing some more, making sure that I do my writing every night before I let myself start playing. And yes, I know that these are all things that I've said before, and will probably say again, but as long as I'm trying, I think I'll be doing a pretty good job.

In blog news, you should be seeing things change around here sooner or later as I get a little style actually injected into this poor old beast. I need to get something up besides the default WordPress theme up, and I'm happy to say that should be happening pretty soon. If all goes well, I should have a space up for posting stories that I've been wanting to share, and maybe a few other things. I'm looking forward to 2014 being a really good year. Who wants to tag along?

An end of year update – Merry Christmas!

Sorry I've been quiet since my mid-NaNoWriMo update. I'd like to say that I've been super busy getting stuff done and finishing up my project from November, but the truth is that I've been super-lazy. Granted, I have been doing some work on Edge of December, but I've mostly been screwing around catching and trianing my Pokemons. Delphox will totally kick your ass, so back off.

That being said, I'm back in the game. I've got a nice long break for the rest of the year and a little into next that I'm going to (hopefully) use to get some serious work done. December was supposed to be to finish up my NaNo project and kick WordKeeper V 2.0 out, so I'm hoping that I can still get at least one of those done. I also have the added goal of figuring out how to end out the current Arc of Edge of December. Granted, a lot of work for the few days I have, and not everything is going to get done, but I'm sure I can make some serious headway.

Most of my design work is done for the new version of WKA. All that's left is a few smaller pages and finishing the design of the social aspect. That, I don't know what I'm going to do with it. It might be a little bit of trial and error until I find something that works. Version 2.0 will be significantly more fully featured than the current generation, with a bit of social built in, some Twitter and Facebook integration, a nifty little tool that counts the words you've written and a much more advanced graphing utility to track your progress. Also, I'm integrating projects so that you'll be able to set goals per project and track them independently. Once I have it done, it will be a pretty awesome way to keep track of your writing trends and hopefully inspire you to write more.

Once December is over, I'm starting work back up on Impervious, with the goal of pushing right through the second draft, at which point I'll be looking for some Beta readers. While the beta reading is in progress, I'll finish out book 2, and maybe get a start on book 3.

Though I did spend a fair amount of time screwing around this year, I've actually written more than I ever have previously. According to WordKeeper I've written some 85,000 words since I started it at the start of the year, and had a few really good months before I got it up and running. I'm guessing that I wrote at least 100,000 words this year, which isn't bad at all! I finished up Impervious, split off Unstoppable from the vast expance that was the original draft, got started on the second draft of Impervious, got WordKeeperAlpha up and running, started on the second version of WKA, got a new blog up and running (though I need to keep it better updated), made several new writer friends online and finished NaNoWriMo again with a brand new story! None of this takes into account the awesome stuff that Glenn and I have been doing over at Edge of December where we Kickstarted our first book, and put out several eBooks. We're getting really close to finishing out the current Arc of the story, which is going to be HUGE!

Granted, that's not quite the goals I had set at the beginning of the year last year. I wanted to get a few more short stories written and submitted to various venues, and have closer to 125,000 words written, but I'm still really happy with everything I've gotten done! If I can keep up this pace, I'll have my first book done and available in 2014 with a second and third following close on its heels! That's super exciting and will serve to motivate me! There's going to be a lot of awesome stuff happening next year, so make sure to stay tuned. Hopefully I'll be a lot better at maintaining the blog and putting up some more articles that are more than just status updates between my long absences.

Here's wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, however you celebrate them. I should be putting out one more update before the new year with some updates on WKA, but if that doesn't happen then everyone have a good rest of the year!

Quick NaNoWriMo update

Salutations peasants! It is I, your mighty blogger king, finally returned from my quest for … y'know stuff. Thanks for not rebelling in my absensce or burning stuff to the ground. That was awful considerate of you. Also, in your place I completely would have burned something down. Just sayin'. But I'm back, and so are all the guards and also Steve the headsman. So everybody back to work or Steve get's all choppy.

Speaking of work, we're now nine days into November which means that we're nine days into National Write a Novel Month. I'm participating for the second time this year, after my fantastic, if unofficial, win last year. This year I've got a daily goal of 2000 words a day to help me build up a nice buffer for later in the month when Thanksgiving happens and I can't write for three days.

So far I have 14977 words written, which means I'm about a day ahead (since its the start of the day and I have yet to write). My wife hasn't seen much of me since the beginning of the month, but I think she's enjoying that.

I'm keeping it short today, because I've got other words to write that are not blog type words. I'll check in here every few days with a quick update, if for posterity more than anything else. To anyone else participating in NaNoWriMo, good luck and keep writing!

I’ve been quiet lately … too quiet

I know, I've been bad about updating for the last few weeks. I have this awesome week where I do three whole posts, and then I disappear for the better part of a month. I'm a bad bad man. What was I doing? Who are you, my mom? Oh… well, sorry mom.

Long story short, I've been working on version 2.0 of WordKeeperAlpha. No, this won't be WordKeeperBeta. I have no intention of securing a new domain name just to keep things straight. Also, I won't ever be able to get the wordkeeper.com domain. Yeah, I have all of three users, including myself, but there are several things that needed to be fixed, and a few I wanted to add.

On top of the bug fixes and feature additions, I'm completely redesigning the UI using Twitter Bootstrap. I think I might just be in love with that framework. Seriously, go and check out WordKeeperAlpha.com/NewHome.aspx and see the difference. Its going to be a few months yet before I role out the new site (probobly not until the New Year, since I've got a job now and can only work on it a couple hours a night) but progress continues.

What does this mean for my writing and Impervious? Eh, its slowing down a little, but not too much since I've been so bad about writing recently. I am still going to take November off from all my other hobbies and pursuits and do National Novel Writing Month. I'll be doing my best to keep my blog, Twitter and Facebook updated with my progress there. I'll most likely be working on the third Book in the Iron Principles series, which will be a lot of fun. I'm going to be doing plotting in October, along with enough writing on Edge of December to carry me into December (shut up). Speaking of which, I should get back to that. I've a chapter to finish cleaning up. I hope you're reading! Enjoy!

Social Media – What I’ve learned so far (Part 1)

In the not too distant future, I want to be able to write, full time, and not be a homeless bum. The chances of this happening are somewhere between small and insignificant. depending on a variety of factors. One of those factors is developing and keeping an audience. Right now, I've got 136 followers on Twitter, picking up an extra one or two a week. I think that's pretty decent, considering that I haven't even DONE anything yet, aside from being my delightful self out where everyone can see. So, I'm something of novice when it comes to socializing on the web. That being said though, I've learned some very valuable things in the last few months. I wanted to share some of those things here, and maybe encourage some discussion on the topic.

First off; I love Twitter. It is the perfect platform for someone who's brain is as riddled with ADD as mine is. It's also great training for learning how to concentrate complex thoughts into as short a space as you can. You've got 140 characters to express an idea, feeling or carry on a conversation. Just from a reading standpoint, its incredibly interesting and fun. If you're a bit of an introvert, sharing short succinct interactions with people is perfect too. If you're an author, looking to build an audience, you could do worse than to get yourself on Twitter and start tweeting. There are a few do's and don'ts that come with it though. Here's what I've learned:

  • Do: Find yourself a good Twitter agent. No, I don't mean hire someone to use it for you. I mean a program that helps you keep track of the things going on on Twitter. In my browser, I use the TweetDeck extension in Chrome. It's fantastic! You can have several columns that show your main feed, the interactions that you have with other users and create custom columns for hash-tags (I'll get to this.) On my iPad, I use TweetBot, at least for now. I'm always bouncing from one solution to another on my iPad and iPhone, because the pace of development is pretty quick. I'm also open to suggestions here. Does anyone else have a favorite program?
  • Do: Find people whose content you enjoy. This is a lot easier than it sounds. Twitter has quite a few ways of discovering fun and interesting people to follow. If you're an author, I recommend looking up other authors you like. One of the first things I do, when I discover a new author, is find out if they've got a Twitter account. Authors will also interact with each other, tweet about new books they're writing or that friend in their network are writing. Plus, they have some of the best conversations on Twitter. Writers are really awesome people.
  • Do: Learn how to use “lists”. Twitter has an excellent feature that allows you to create sub-feeds, called “lists”. Are you following 1000 people and unable to find the tweets from the people you're most interested in? Make a list! You'll find that you follow certain people back, just to be polite or for other various reasons (I'll address this too) but you don't really want to read every stupid thing they post. To this end I've created a “short list” of people that I follow who have the most interesting and entertaining or educational tweets. I've also got an “author's” list that just contains the authors that I follow. Another tip: You can make your list public so that other people can follow it. Find someone on Twitter you like? See if they have a list. It may lead you to more good people to follow.
  • Do: Learn how to use hashtags. Hashtags are a handy feature of Twitter, and a couple other social networks, that let you “tag” your tweets by putting a '#' in front of a word. This lets users search on that term and find everyone who's tweeting with that hashtag. A great one for authors to keep an eye on and use is #amwriting. This is where Twitter has really been shining for me in the past month since I made a special column in TweetDeck for that hashtag. Its increased how many people that I'm exposed to and I've had some very fun interactions because of it.
  • Do: Jump into a conversation. Its weird, I know. Twitter will sometimes seem like a bunch of people shouting into the void. You'll probably feel like that when you're just starting out: Like you're standing on a cliff in the middle of no-where, shouting out into nothingness. You're lonely, you're scared, and you'd just like someone to come along and tell you that you aren't a gibbering mad person. I think a lot of people on twitter feel this way. The truth is though, you're actually in an infinitely large room, full of people who are largely talking to themselves, alone in a crowd. This, is stupid. There's people everywhere! You don't need to be alone, and neither do they. Go up and talk to someone. Use the #amwriting tag. If someone says something interesting, or funny, tell them. If they ask a question, answer. Make a cheeky response. Sometimes this will work, sometimes it won't. I remember getting royally chewed out once for being friendly, but that's the exception, not the rule, in my experience. Put yourself out there and make some friends! You'll be glad you did.
  • Do: Be polite, damnit! Seriously, this isn't a hard one and it correlates to the next rule, and its a rule, not a “suggestion” but we'll get to that later on.

Wow…this is ending up being a lot more of a post than I thought it would be. So, for the sake of sanity, and having some good content to post the rest of the week, I'm going to break this into two parts. So, stay tuned for the second part of this post where I go into the “Don'ts” of using Twitter. Until then, get on Twitter and have some fun!