While I was making other plans…

by Doc Coleman on July 26, 2013 · 4 comments

in Asides

A lot can change in a year, and yet, a year can speed by you so fast, leaving so much undone.

This time last year, I was looking back at what I had done since my last birthday, and making plans for how I was going to move forward over the next year. Looking at it now, it sure seems like a lot of the things I had planned out last year didn’t end up happening. At least, the way things developed certainly was not what I originally planned. Whether that will turn out to be for good or for ill, time will tell. Perhaps I’ll know next year.

Last July, I had committed myself to work on developing the second draft of The Perils of Prague, even if I potentially ended up waiting years to bring the book to publication. I was seriously thinking about holding on to it in order to place it with a traditional publisher that would be willing to commit to the book and the rest of the series. To that end, I planned on writing a new novel for immediate podcast release to help me build up my personal brand and develop a following with which to woo that hypothetical traditional publisher. I planned on releasing my two remaining Every Photo Tells… stories in e-book format, and working on two other stories I started that never got published. I was planning on making some big changes to The Nifty Tech Blog and The Shrinking Man Project, in order to free myself up to focus on writing more seriously, but at the same time I expected to do two new full cast podcast projects and expand my voice acting.

I’m certainly ambitious.

Of course, it didn’t turn out that way. Perils sat for another 9 months before I finally got started on my second draft. In those months, I decided that instead of focusing on traditional publishing, I will be self-publishing Perils and the Adventures of Crackle & Bang series. If traditional publishing wants a piece, I can do another edition later, if the deal is right. For now, the best way for me to make sure the story gets treated properly is to do it myself. I did start a new novel, The Bright Lands, which turned out to be a very different book from what I had planned. It is still unfinished, and may not have a complete first draft before I start working on the second draft. I did release one of my waiting short stories, “Welcome to Paradox”, but I still haven’t gotten started on the other three short stories I wanted to get published this year. My podcast and my tech blog are still lingering in the winds, although there has been some behind the scenes activity with the tech blog that will hopefully come to light in August. But not the big changes I had planned. I have tried to expand my voice acting, even to joining ACX in the hopes of finding paying work, but very little has come of it. The full cast podcast projects? Still waiting a year later.

Which doesn’t mean I haven’t done anything this year. Just that it wasn’t exactly what was planned.

I’ve made a bigger commitment to my day job. I’ve stepped up my efforts there, and started stepping up my work wardrobe. This has gotten me a lot more respect at work. I’m seriously looking for promotion opportunities, and my work has been supportive of my efforts. This has also meant that at times my personal projects have taken major hits because of the amount of energy I’ve put into paying work.

I finally got a logo and started establishing branding for Swimming Cat Studios. This is going to be more important as I move from being less of a hobby into being more of a serious business. And publishing is serious business.

A chunk of time last summer was spent on audio production for my Tales from the Archives story “The Cross of Columba”, which went live in the fall. We put a lot of hard work into that production, because we were aiming for the finals of the Parsec Awards. We did get nominated, but we didn’t make the Finalists list this year. Even so, it was quite an education into that level of production.

NaNoWriMo came and went, and The Bright Lands failed to make quota for words in November. It is still unfinished, but there is still life in that story yet. What started as a one-shot modern fantasy has grown and become a YA fairytale trilogy. I still need to come to grips with some aspects of plotting and pacing for Bright Lands, but now I have a much better grasp on the characters and the story arc through the trilogy. I hope to get back to it before the year is over.

At the same time, a new project appeared: Scott Roche’s Way of the Gun Anthology. This started as a Kickstarter, but we weren’t able to make our goal. We cut some costs and re-launched it as an IndieGoGo project and manage to get some funding for it, but this has been another project that takes longer than planned. Progress on my story, “The Shining Cog” was slow at first, but picked up quite a bit when I discovered The Magic Spreadsheet. Once I started using the Magic Spreadsheet, I finished “Cog” in under two weeks. Now the story is finally back for the first round of edits, and we are still hopeful for a release this fall, although there are too many factors at work to predict the release with any certainty.

In the audio realm, January saw a renewed push to complete the Balticon 46 Wrap up podcast series, publishing audio I recorded at Balticon last year. This time I managed to keep with a bi-weekly schedule and got the episodes out on time to complete just before Balticon 47. The Balticon 47 Wrap up is now under way, with a weekly release schedule this time. We’re not as far ahead as I’d like, but we’ll be trying really hard to keep from having any late episodes. I still haven’t tried to pull stats for this project and I need to do so.

I spent some time setting up an ACX account and auditioning, but I still haven’t gotten any solid offers from it. I need to get back to ACX and start auditioning for more projects. It is another thing to compete for my time, but it has a very big plus going for it: it is paying work.

April saw a return to the Magic Spreadsheet, our first visit to RavenCon, and the beginning of the second draft of Perils. The second draft took about two months to complete, although there was at least one week in there where I didn’t write in any fashion at all. Coming back to Perils really drove home to me how much my writing had improved since the early short stories I did for Every Photo Tells…. Perils had a much stronger voice in the first draft, but I didn’t realize that until after I had let it sit for several months. And after re-working “Paradox” for release. Looking at it now, I’d say that the short stories are good, but Perils has the potential for greatness. Oh, it still has flaws that I need to work on, but it was startling to see how much my work had improved.

May saw me starting a third novel. Yes, I got bored with what I had to work with and I started writing against the concept I had come up with for this year’s NaNoWriMo novel: a sci-fi world where the presence of metahumans with super-powers had divided the world into three factions. In an attempt to prevent strife between these factions from wiping out the human race, a joint space exploration project is launched to find new worlds for the different factions. The problem is that the crew are all battle-scarred veterans of the power wars. Tensions are high aboard ship. If they can’t keep sane and away from each other’s throats long enough to complete their mission, it could spell the end of all humanity. I spent some time toying with this story before smacking myself upside the head and reminding myself that I had two other stories to get out first and redoubling my efforts on Perils.

Part of that effort involved recruiting some help in the form of Alpha and Beta readers and looking for potential editors who could help me shape Perils into a better book at a price I can afford. Self-publishing means being the publisher, which means paying up front for some services. Something that most writers, myself included, tend to forget until we are looking at how we are going to cover those costs. For my next book, I might be able to swing some kind of crowd-funding. For now, I pretty much have to rely on the kindness of those who believe in my writing, and try to put some money aside to cover the costs that kindness won’t handle.

Of course, there have been a lot of things that have gotten in the way over the past year. I’ve mentioned the toll that my day job takes on me from time to time, but there have been other things. In March my wife had a full knee replacement, and a lot of time has gone to her care and helping her manage her recovery. We also had issues with one of our cats who is getting up in years and has had problems with arthritis and hip dysplasia. And it didn’t help that while I had a great time at Balticon this year, I came home from it with a case of strep throat and was sick for over a week.

Still, it has been an eventful year. And if I can maintain my current progress, next year should be an even more eventful one.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 James Crawford July 26, 2013 at 2:35 pm

I hope you’re taking time to be proud of yourself. I’m impressed with how much you do, and you know impressing me isn’t easy. Best wishes, ol’ chum!


2 Doc Coleman July 26, 2013 at 6:14 pm

I’m happy with my accomplishments, but I can’t seem to keep from reaching for more. Perhaps I’ve finally grown into a healthy level of ambition. I must admit that sometimes I wish I could figure out which project to cut so I’m not spread so thin. I never really seem to come up with a conclusive answer. I guess I go with whichever one is the most fun at the moment.

Thanks for the good wishes!



3 Kee July 26, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Hrmm… I see another disruption in the future… CRF and the Left Knee Partial Replacement. November is gonna be rather full this year, ya think?


4 Doc Coleman July 26, 2013 at 6:17 pm

November is ALWAYS full. Oddly enough, it usually gets easier to write in November because everything incidental gets put on hold. It is good for building discipline. Keeping the discipline the rest of the year is another thing. It will be interesting to do NaNoWriMo while on the Magic Spreadsheet.



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