Q1 2016 Writing Review

The first quarter of 2016 is complete! And that means it's time for mind-numbing statistics. Here's how my writing progress went:

  • 1/4: 18,639 words written
  • 1/11: 20,211
  • 1/18: 27,378
  • 1/25: 12,867
  • 2/1: 12,656
  • 2/8: 9,124
  • 2/15: 10,681
  • 2/22: 12,580
  • 2/29: 8,804
  • 3/7: 11,437
  • 3/14: 8,496
  • 3/21: 11,265
  • 3/28: 7,485

That's a total of 171,623 words. Not quite as good as Q3 2015 (where I wrote 208,000!), but it still makes for my second-best quarter yet. So, what was I working on?

  • Gear: 45,000 words added. This is a techno-thriller about two cross-country cyclists who stumble upon a government facility in the desert. My manuscript was sitting at 70,000 words last quarter, and I took a break before writing the finale. Now it's done, and will "rest" for a few weeks before I tackle the second draft. 
  • The Strange Physics of the Heidelberg Laboratory: 40,000 words. This is Book 6 of the Ultimate Ending series I'm writing with Danny McAleese, a Choose Your Own Adventure style series with multiple paths, puzzles, and endings. The series launches this week! 
  • Sabotage in the Sundered Sky: 52,000 words. This is Book 8 in the Ultimate Ending series, but won't be released until mid-summer.
  • Star Trek Brave New Worlds: 8,700 words. My first attempt at fan-fiction, I decided to submit an entry to the Brave New Worlds writing contest. My entry is about Captain Picard sneaking back to the planet Rhysa for some rest and relaxation, when he's discovered by members of his crew. Results are announced sometime this month, though I have no expectations.
  • The Ghost War: 9,900 words. A short story about an elite group of soldiers who are continuously refurbished and sent back into an endless war. I love this story, so I'm hoping to be able to find a home for it.
  • We Don't Tolerate That Nonsense Here: 9,000 words. Inspired by an episode of StarTalk Radio, this is a short story about a girl who wakes up one morning with unexplainable powers. 
  • The Watchers: 3133 words. This is a short story I started while flying to Las Vegas, and it's currently sitting unfinished.
  • Days Until Home: 6,500 words.  This is a weekly serial I'm writing along with Mark Gardner and Greg Dragon. New chapters every Wednesday! Check it out here

This was a fun quarter because I took a break from my Tales of a Dying Star and Books of Bathyly series' to work on some small projects. Ultimate Ending is really fricken fun to write, and Danny and I will be releasing books every few months. Working on five separate short stories was also an enjoyable change of pace, though I'm anxious to get back into my other books.

In addition to that, I also received feedback from beta readers on Spore, and made edits based on their recommendations. 

So what are my goals for Q2 2016? 

  • Write the first draft of Tales of a Dying Star #6.
  • Write Ultimate Ending #10.
  • Write four more chapters for Days Until Home
  • Write two short stories for submission. 
  • Submit Spore to agents. 
  • Edit Gear and send to beta readers. 

I have a few other projects waiting in the wings to complete (namely Book #2 of The Books of Bathyly, and a standalone novel titled The Information War) but the above are the big ones on my list. Even then, it's going to be a very busy quarter, so I don't expect to finish all of the above. 

That's it! Cheers to another successful writing quarter. 

New Cover and Paperback Giveaway!

Ohh yeah. It's time to give away some free paperbacks!

I was pleased with the original cover for Siege of Praetar, but after working with the incredibly talented Milan Jaram on the covers for Sword of Blue and Drowned by Fire, I knew I wanted to get his touch on some of my older work. So I had him redesign the cover for the first book in the Tales of a Dying Star series:

For those of you who've read it, the new cover features Bruno, the self-titled Lord of the Station. I absolutely love it! The text really pops, and I think it brings some much-needed rejuvenation to the first book in the series. 

And I've got a big stack of these new paperbacks to give away! If you want one, all you have to do is the following:

  1. Visit the Siege of Praetar Amazon site
  2. Leave an honest review. Whether one-star or five-star, one sentence or ten paragraphs, so long as it's your honest opinion that's all that matters!
  3. Amazon will send you a confirmation email. It will look something like this:

Simply forward that confirmation email to David.Kristoph@gmail.com along with your mailing address. That's it! I'll ship out a signed copy of Siege of Praetar within a day or so. And all you have to do is spend 20 seconds leaving an honest review. No raffles, no random drawings. Every single person who does this will get a free paperback copy!

I only have a limited number of copies, however, so this will only last until I run out. It's FREE, so what's stopping you?

NOTE: US addresses only, unfortunately. HOWEVER, if you live outside the US and leave a review, I'll be happy to send you an eBook copy of any of the remaining books in the series. 

Also, obviously there's no way for me to verify that a review is genuine. Someone might have never read the book, and will leave a phony review just to collect a free paperback. Sadly, there's not much I can do about this. But if you're one of those people, I hope that after receiving your copy of Siege of Praetar you go back and leave a genuine review (or edit your original review to reflect your true opinion). It's all that I ask!

Writing Tips from Stephen King

Love him or hate him, Stephen King knows a shitload about writing. For those of you who haven't read his book On Writing, I highly recommend giving it a shot. Here are twenty writing tips gleaned from there, courtesy of The Author's Nook:

  1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story. Your stuff starts out being just for you, but then it goes out.”

  2. Don’t use passive voice. “Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe. The timid fellow writes “The meeting will be held at seven o’clock” because that somehow says to him, ‘Put it this way and people will believe you really know. ‘Purge this quisling thought! Don’t be a muggle! Throw back your shoulders, stick out your chin, and put that meeting in charge! Write ‘The meeting’s at seven.’ There, by God! Don’t you feel better?”

  3. Avoid adverbs. “The adverb is not your friend. Consider the sentence “He closed the door firmly.” It’s by no means a terrible sentence, but ask yourself if ‘firmly’ really has to be there. What about context? What about all the enlightening (not to say emotionally moving) prose which came before ‘He closed the door firmly’? Shouldn’t this tell us how he closed the door? And if the foregoing prose does tell us, then isn’t ‘firmly’ an extra word? Isn’t it redundant?”

  4. Avoid adverbs, especially after “he said” and “she said.” “While to write adverbs is human, to write ‘he said’ or ‘she said’ is divine.”

  5. But don’t obsess over perfect grammar. “Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes. The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story… to make him/her forget, whenever possible, that he/she is reading a story at all. “

  6. The magic is in you. “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing. Dumbo got airborne with the help of a magic feather; you may feel the urge to grasp a passive verb or one of those nasty adverbs for the same reason. Just remember before you do that Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him.”

  7. Read, read, read. “You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

  8. Don’t worry about making other people happy. “Reading at meals is considered rude in polite society, but if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second to least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

  9. Turn off the TV. “Most exercise facilities are now equipped with TVs, but TV—while working out or anywhere else—really is about the last thing an aspiring writer needs. If you feel you must have the news analyst blowhard on CNN while you exercise, or the stock market blowhards on MSNBC, or the sports blowhards on ESPN, it’s time for you to question how serious you really are about becoming a writer. You must be prepared to do some serious turning inward toward the life of the imagination, and that means, I’m afraid, that Geraldo, Keigh Obermann, and Jay Leno must go. Reading takes time, and the glass teat takes too much of it.”

  10. You have three months. “The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season.”

  11. There are two secrets to success. “When I’m asked for ‘the secret of my success’ (an absurd idea, that, but impossible to get away from), I sometimes say there are two: I stayed physically healthy, and I stayed married. It’s a good answer because it makes the question go away, and because there is an element of truth in it. The combination of a healthy body and a stable relationship with a self reliant woman who takes zero shit from me or anyone else has made the continuity of my working life possible. And I believe the converse is also true: that my writing and the pleasure I take in it has contributed to the stability of my health and my home life.”

  12. Write one word at a time. “A radio talk-show host asked me how I wrote. My reply—’One word at a time’—seemingly left him without a reply. I think he was trying to decide whether or not I was joking. I wasn’t. In the end, it’s always that simple. Whether it’s a vignette of a single page or an epic trilogy like ‘The Lord Of The Rings,’ the work is always accomplished one word at a time.”

  13. Eliminate distraction. “There should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or videogames for you to fool around with. If there’s a window, draw the curtains or pull down the shades unless it looks out at a blank wall.”

  14. Stick to your own style. “One cannot imitate a writer’s approach to a particular genre, no matter how simple what the writer is doing may seem. You can’t aim a book like a cruise missile, in other words. People who decide to make a fortune writing lik John Grisham or Tom Clancy produce nothing but pale imitations, by and large, because vocabulary is not the same thing as feeling and plot is light years from the truth as it is understood by the mind and the heart.”

  15. Dig. “When, during the course of an interview for The New Yorker, I told the interviewer (Mark Singer) that I believed stories are found things, like fossils in the ground, he said that he didn’t believe me. I replied that that was fine, as long as he believed that I believe it. And I do. Stories aren’t souvenir tee-shirts or Game Boys. Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible. Sometimes the fossil you uncover is small; a seashell. Sometimes it’s enormous, a Tyrannosaurus Rex with all the gigantic ribs and grinning teeth. Either way, short story or thousand page whopper of a novel, the techniques of excavation remain basically the same.”

  16. Take a break. “If you’ve never done it before, you’ll find reading your book over after a six-week layoff to be a strange, often exhilarating experience. It’s yours, you’ll recognize it as yours, even be able to remember what tune was on the stereo when you wrote certain lines, and yet it will also be like reading the work of someone else, a soul-twin, perhaps. This is the way it should be, the reason you waited. It’s always easier to kill someone else’s darlings that it is to kill your own.”

  17. Leave out the boring parts and kill your darlings. “Mostly when I think of pacing, I go back to Elmore Leonard, who explained it so perfectly by saying he just left out the boring parts. This suggests cutting to speed the pace, and that’s what most of us end up having to do (kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.)”

  18. The research shouldn’t overshadow the story. “If you do need to do research because parts of your story deal with things about which you know little or nothing, remember that word back. That’s where research belongs: as far in the background and the back story as you can get it. You may be entranced with what you’re learning about the flesh-eating bacteria, the sewer system of New York, or the I.Q. potential of collie pups, but your readers are probably going to care a lot more about your characters and your story.”

  19. You become a writer simply by reading and writing. “You don’t need writing classes or seminars any more than you need this or any other book on writing. Faulkner learned his trade while working in the Oxford, Mississippi post office. Other writers have learned the basics while serving in the Navy, working in steel mills or doing time in America’s finer crossbar hotels. I learned the most valuable (and commercial) part of my life’s work while washing motel sheets and restaurant tablecloths at the New Franklin Laundry in Bangor. You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.”

  20. Writing is about getting happy. “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.”

Drowned by Fire: Illustrations

Drowned by Fire, Book IV of the Tales of a Dying Star series, is on track for release next month. However, some of the spaceship sketches to be included in the book are now complete. I just received these finished illustrations from Greg Bahlmann. 

Riverhawk Fighter

Riverhawk Fighter

Goshawk Light Scout

Goshawk Light Scout

Can't wait to see these bad boys in print! You can view more of his work on his DeviantArt page

2015 Q1 Writing Review

No April Fool's post today, just a boring one about writing.

I'm a sucker for statistics. Baseball stats, exercise stats, writing stats... I love 'em all. So, with the first quarter of 2015 in the books (get it? BOOKS?), let's take a look at how much I accomplished. 

First, week-by-week totals:

  • 1/5: 10,000 words written
  • 1/12: 8,700
  • 1/19: 7,700
  • 1/26: 3,400
  • 2/2: 7,000
  • 2/9: 16,050
  • 2/16: 10,284
  • 2/23: 5,200
  • 3/2: 0
  • 3/9: 5,900
  • 3/16: 10,100
  • 3/23: 2,750

The weeks of 1/26, 3/2, and 3/23 were spent doing significant editing, hence the lower totals. The week of 2/9 I took a few vacation days from work to focus on writing. Originally the goal was to begin my thriller Sleep, but I was feeling inspired and charged head-first into the first draft of Tales of a Dying Star #4 instead. 

Altogether I totaled 87,084 words for the quarter. 6,700 per week, or almost 1,000 per day, which is typically what I aim for. Not as much as last quarter (95,000 words), but considering I've done some major editing on two books I'm still pleased with the totals. I published one book (The Ancillary) and did most of the work on another (Sword of Blue), which is a good three month for anyone. 

I'm excited about the next quarter. The first draft of Drowned by Fire will be complete within the next two weeks, which is the final book in the Tales of a Dying Star quadrilogy. I have more books planned for that universe, but I'm going to let my sci-fi batteries recharge by working on other projects first.

I've blocked off all of April and part of May to finish the first draft of Pillars of Wrath, the first book in my fantasy series, which has been sitting at 92,000 words since last October. Once that's done I'll turn my eyes to Sleep, the Thriller I've had outlined for months but haven't managed to make time for. 

Those are my two main goals for the quarter, along with editing and publishing Drowned by Fire. Beyond that I have lots of other projects (a standalone sci-fi novel, two other thrillers, and several short stories), but if I can accomplish those by July I'll be happy.