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In 2038, the civil war had stalled. Fighting contained to border skirmishes between what remained of the United States of America and the Union of Reformed States. Corporal Caleb Thompson, 111th Mortuary Affairs, URSA, faced the hardest decision of his young life. Searching for deceased soldiers after a recent battle, he found himself in a situation he never expected. Would he help his lifelong friend or follow the orders of God and Country?

Progress On My Debut Novel – Post 3

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“As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand.”
Ernest Hemingway

I wish you all the best in 2020. I am not one for resolutions, but I do set loose goals for myself that I’ll track throughout the year. Last year had mixed results, but more positive results than less favorable. Professionally, in my day job, I settled into working in a government position. My focus has been learning that job, as I am hoping it is the job that will take me into my retirement career as an author. While learning the job, I got a promotion into a position that will fit my lifestyle and within my goals very nicely — all good things. Plus, I get a three-day weekend every other week.

We have been making steady progress upgrading our house; this process will carry on for a while, as we have the time and budget to complete the work. This year we are well on our way to replacing the floors — no more carpet.

Being a veteran and a student of history has taught me the importance of being prepared for emergencies. Being prepared for a natural disaster or other emergencies has become essential to my family and me over the last couple of years. I don’t go crazy about it, but a little thought into what situations you are most likely to face in your area will guide you towards the basics of what you should have on hand to be prepared. Living in Oregon, we don’t have natural disasters as often as other parts of the country, but there is still the possibility. Researching the best methods and items to be prepared for our situation has been useful not only on a personal level but helpful for my WIP as well. We did well last year in filling out the basics in our plan; this year, we want to work on fulfilling the items that would be considered ‘nice to have.’

As for my writing goals – last year, I got serious about my writing (it was about mid-year when it kicked in), where I was able to prioritize writing daily. I am not at the point in my WIP where word count is a useful metric for tracking progress, as I have been working on my outline and research. While I do note my word count, it is hours that I am focused on tracking. This year my minimum goal is to work on writing activities for 10 hours a week or 520 hours per year, the equivalent of a part-time job. I hope to exceed this, but this is an achievable goal. Once I get into writing the first draft, I’ll focus on time and word count. My top goal for 2020 is to finish my first novel to the point of being ready for publishing. I have set small goals to work towards the prime objective, but I won’t bore you with them now.

As for where I stand in my current WIP – I am about 50% through a detailed outline that is closer to a first draft without the narrative and dialog. After doing research and putting some thought into the work I have completed to date, I am going back and revising much of the first 50% before finishing the outline. I am focused on inserting scenes to set up events in books two and three. I am adding scenes for characters who I want to have a more prominent role, changing POV for scenes, and rearranging scenes for a better pace. I don’t view these changes as a setback; I consider it part of the learning process and an opportunity to improve the quality of the novel. Either way, it has been an enjoyable way to spend time.

I hope you had a successful 2019, and I wish you an even more successful 2020. Happy New Year.

Progress On My Debut Novel – Post 02

Thank you for joining me on my journey of writing my debut novel, which is the first book of a planned trilogy that falls somewhere on the spectrum of dystopian and urban survival. You can follow my more frequent updates on Instagram.

Straight up, September had mixed results but was positive overall. After spending the summer developing a habit of writing daily and working on main character development; I had a working plan of using September to do the Outline, and the final three months of the year to write the first draft with a 90,000-word target.

At the end of September, I was only about 40% of the way through the outline. I can tell you it was not from lack of working on it or putting my writing time in; I have been tracking time and word count daily. I don’t feel good about missing the September outline target, but I perfectly fine with my effort and the quality. It is not worth beating myself up over it. Looking back, it was an unrealistic goal. The kids started school and require more time in the evening, plus with my work schedule, I can only dedicate about an hour a night to writing. I got my writing hour in most nights with the occasional night missed due to family time. I do get more writing time on the weekends.

The outline is far more detailed than I expected. Keep in mind, this is my first time through the process. The scenes I outline are not in bullet point form, I free write what happens in the scene within the three-act structure. I don’t worry about narrative, and only add dialogue if I think of something good, that I don’t want to forget. The good news is this will help make for a smooth first draft. The reality of this is I am under absolutely no deadline, and I would prefer the quality is good, over quantity. As long as I know I am writing regular and getting the work in, I am okay with it.

My revised goal is to get 10 quality hours of work in a week. Super doable (1 hour each work night, and 1.5 hours on weekend days; if I can’t do a night during the week, it is easy to make up on the weekend). This will be the plan through the outline phase of my WIP. As long as I get in the work, and what I am creating is of quality, then I see that as a success.