Dreams with Deadlines

Dreams with Deadlines

This blog is sort of my public journal of sorts. I honestly don’t know how many people actually read it. I know some read it by email subscription and a very small few actually come to the main page. I just added Google+ and LinkedIn, but I don’t know if that’s really going to matter or not. I’ve shared a lot of thoughts on this blog since I became serious about it. A lot of thoughts on writing, my progress, gaming, Caitlyn, Talissa and a lot of other things. 

But in the end, -rks is a writing blog. It’s about my journey to becoming a full-fledged author. To becoming a published author. One day, I hope someone will be interested enough to go into the archives and read posts like these to find out how I made it as an author.

Why am I doing this blog? Sometimes, I don’t really know. Part of it is that I know I’m supposed to. I’m supposed to do a blog. That’s what authors do these days. I know most of the time I’m talking to myself. But somehow, I’m okay with that. I’m one of those people who tend to figure out things as I write them. It’s one of the ways I think. So if I ramble, it’s probably because I’m trying to work something out. Part of it is because I hope that I might somehow find a community out there where I fit in. Part of it is because I can.

Why am I saying all of this?

Because in about a week, my Baby Bonding Time will be at an end. And that means my time at home is at an end. I haven’t worked at Apple since the middle of September due to my panic attacks and the birth of Talissa. Very soon, I’ll be going back.

I’ve been thinking a bit about what that means. About what that means for my daily writing goals. About what that means for the OC Inklings Critique Group. About what that means for me as a person. About what that means for my future.

The conclusion is one that I’ve already come to, but somehow it seems different now.

In 2011, I won Honorable Mention in the Blizzard Global Writing contest, the last one they ever did (the person who spearheaded it was laid off during that Winter, sadly). For me, that was the proof I needed that I could write. And I could write pretty damn well. Enough that out of the thousands or maybe even tens of thousands of entries, mine warranted a “Honorable Mention.” That I could take characters who were not my own and create a believable story enough for the people who originally crafted the world…that was a major milestone in my writing life. Since that event, the little voice in my head telling me that I can’t write has had no power over me. Because I had the proof that I can do this.

In the last three months, I’ve learned a lot about writing. I’ve learned a lot about networking and that “Ashes over Stormwind” was not a fluke. “Beyond the Waterfall,” the first story submitted to the OC Inklings, was 9,000 words. The assigned goal for critiquing was 3,000. Nearly everyone burned past the 3,000 mark and just finished the story. They were so interested in the events of this short story that they read their required reading twice over.

The results? Overwhelming positive. Reviews on “A Glimmer of Perspective?” Overwhelmingly positive. Comments regarding “Soul of the Scribe?” Overwhelmingly positive.

A while back, I decided I wanted to be an author for real and I wrote an extensive post on it.

As I head back to my normal day job, I’m realizing that’s exactly what it is: a normal day job. A vast majority of authors have to hold down the standard day job to make ends meet as they worked on their craft. And as I go back to Apple, that is my new mindset. I will do my job to the best of my ability. I will search for ways to push myself and learn all I can. Because places like Apple are ripe for stories. Not necessarily because of the events that happen, but in watching the way people interact with and react to one another. Coworkers, customers, managers, kids, regionals, Geniuses, salespeople…I can learn from this place and it can make my craft better.

What I believe my greatest story, “Soul of the Scribe” which spawned the “Crafters of Taylin” universe with 5 books and over 300,000 words (or more) started while I was sitting in my car on my lunch break on a hot summer’s day, staring at the screen because I was bored with the story I’d been working on and wanted something new. So I started with that. An author with writer’s block on a hot day. That became what I believe to be my masterpiece.

My passion is for writing. And one day, I hope to pursue that passion full-time. But until then, I must remember that the environments around me are what show me human interactions, which is almost always at the core of any good story.

So what does this all mean? It sounds all really fancy and hypothetical and theoretical and a lot of other -reticals.

Well, Saddleback Church is going through a series called Transformed. Heh, ironic, considering what I write, right? (Pun mildly intended there). And the lesson today was about goals. Pastor Rick Warren said that the difference between a Dream and a Goal is a Goal is a Dream with a Deadline.

So what’s my Dreams with Deadlines?

By January 27, 2014, I will have “Beyond the Waterfall” ready to go up on Kindle.

By June 1, 2014, I will have at least one novel ready to shop to traditional publishers.

By October 1, 2014, I will have a second novel ready to shop to traditional publishers.

Every week, I will continue running the OC Inklings Critique Group.

And by 2019, five years from now, I will be making enough income from my published works to pursue writing full time.

There are many who might say a few of these goals are impossible or absurd. Way too high. Especially the last one. I’ve got to be crazy right? Well, part of the whole goal this is that it stretches your faith. I can’t do this alone. I don’t have the self-discipline, I don’t have the self-control. I need God to help me…and I need writing friends to help me.

If anyone would like to be a writing buddy of mine and you’ve actually gotten this far, please let me know. I’ll tell you about my ideas.

But the true challenge? Tomorrow morning. It’s easy to make big plans in blogs. It’s easy to do big promises. And then I need to actually do the editing I need to do. It’s hard. I hate editing. But it has to be done. It has to go through that process. I need to do that work. Which is why I’ll spend some time tonight working on my critiques for “Beyond the Waterfall” after I’ve done my personal journal.

By the way, did you know I write 2000 words a day in my current work and another 1500-2000 words a day in my journal? 4,000 words a day. That’s pretty cool. Psychotic. But cool.

Other Things

I could mention other stuff, like my complete and total obliteration of the English Empire in Civilization V and the joys of seeing my invasion fleet crossing the ocean between our continents. About sending their navy to the bottom of the ocean and watching their cities fall in quick succession and enjoying wielding my insane amount of power across the globe, to the point where I send frigates wandering icy straits to take out marauding bands of pirates just for something to do.

Or the joy I got in playing “The Journeyman Project: Pegasus Prime” this week, in revisiting a very old and dear friend who looks damn good even after 15 years.

Or the photo shoot we did yesterday in Irvine Park which I hope to post pictures of soon.

Or the fact that we got Tali to take the bottle fully yesterday.

But today, today is about the writing. So the rest of that can wait for another time.

However, I will add a Pony Video. Because it would be weird if I didn’t, right?

It would.

IT WOULD.

This one you probably won’t get unless you’ve actually seen the episode it’s referring to, but still. It’s awesome.

Anyway, that’s all for this week. They’ll be a special post next week before I return. 🙂

Good luck and have fun!

-rks

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My Birthday Results!

Well, a total of 41 people now have a copy of “A Glimmer of Perspective!” That’s awesome. Sadly, I only got one review from it and it was from a person who I already knew. I was hoping for a blind review, but still, the review was awesome.

I received a free copy from the author in a birthday promotional.

The beginning starts a bit rough and wordy. In my mind, I was simplifying sentences as I read. But you can tell the author gets into his groove around the third page or so.

Unbeknownst to us, our feline companions are far more productive in our happiness and well being than we’re aware. The author drags the secret of that revelation to the very last page which made a nice reveal. And of course they do all this with very little praise or appreciation from us. The narrator (a female I believe?) comes off sarcastic and jaded, obviously very good at her task, taught from birth – a power passed down from mother to child.

I found this idea VERY refreshing and new. It kept my attention from beginning to end. If the author wanted, I think there is the potential for more plot lines around this premise. Can you imagine a whole fantasy story with these cats as main characters? I could.

There were a few snags. The author repeats a lot of phrases and words which pulled me out of the narrative a few times. Those could have been smoothed out by more editing. For example:

“As I grew wise, I learned I could guide…” and in the next sentence: “It’s not a difficult thing to learn…”

That sort of thing.

A Glimmer of Perspective is a great read. I recommend to anyone owned by a feline 🙂

I really enjoyed reading the review actually. I might actually do a short anthology of stories like the reviewer recommended. I don’t think the idea has enough in it to get anything bigger. Unless I expand the idea quite a bit, which is an option.

Critique Group Update

The OC Inklings is going very well. I got some great feedback on my own stories and for the most part, they were overwhelmingly positive. Which is impressive since that version was a half-done rewrite of the story. Heh. I plan on getting that up on Kindle before I go back to work. In fact, after I’m done here, I might work on that a little bit before allowing myself to play Civ 5.

We’ve moved to Week 2, which were two different authors. Now that’s the struggle. Each story was radically different. One was a fantasy novel in the vein of Narnia one was the beginning of a story that the author wasn’t quite sure what to do with. They both proved to be challenging in their own way. And that’s the hardest part about critiques. Sometimes, you need to be a little harsh. I try to limit that as much as I can, focusing on ways to improve rather than simply tearing someone apart.

But it’s hard.

What I am looking forward to is submitting Soul of the Scribe to the entire group. 🙂 That should be a great bit of feedback. I can’t wait to see that.

Birthday

The birthday didn’t go as planned. Sadly, my mom got ill the night before and couldn’t watch Caitlyn. However, I started the day with my writing group, which was awesome. Then Laura and I just had a pretty relaxed afternoon before going to Benihana’s where she surprised me with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while. Always great to see them. The next day, we started the day at IHOP and ended it with seeing The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Pretty intense at places. I had to admit that I loved the way the elves are portrayed…especially in combat. Quick, agile and practically unstoppable. It was amazing and I loved it.

Laura was a little upset that everything didn’t go as planned since we couldn’t have the dinner she wanted to have, but I held her and told her how happy I was with the time we had together. And then we ended up watching more of the Lord of the Rings series I got her for Christmas. 🙂

Gaming

As for games, I’m going back and forth between Civ 5 and Skyrim right now. I do love how well the stories seem to flow out of Civ 5. It’s a great freaking game, especially with all the various expansion packs. Yay! I forgot to mention that I did finish Uncharted 3 some time ago (mostly during a night when I couldn’t sleep) and I agree with the statements my friends gave me. It was good, but not nearly as good as 2. I felt entire sections of story were left out…and a lot was unexplained. However, I am a romantic at heart, so I did enjoy that little part. ^^

And that’s really all I have for this week. In truth, I’m a bit nervous about going back to work in a couple weeks. It’s sneaking up on me. But that’s for another time. Right now, since I already finished my 2,000 words and my critiques for the week, it’s time to relax for a bit. Maybe then I’ll look through some of the critiques on Beyond the Waterfall.

Good luck and have fun!

-rks

It’s My Birthday! So YOU Get a Present!

Birthday Presents for All!

Okay, today isn’t my birthday, but this coming Friday is. It’s hard to believe I’ll be…an age I don’t care to disclose. I’m on the internet, so I’m allowed to keep a few secrets from you all. But you don’t care about that. You’re curious about this present thing aren’t you?

Well, as you might have known, I upped the price of “A Glimmer of Perspective” to $2.99. I realize this price might be a bit high for a 10-page short story. (However, according to some publishing professionals, they believe $2.99 should be the true baseline of ebook short stories) There is another reason however. As you may or may not know, I only get a 30% royalty from all sales if the price is under $2.99. At $2.99, I get a 70% royalty. And even though I’d sold a fair amount of copies..I had made maybe a couple bucks and that’s it.

While I don’t have any plans of ruling the world with the immense wealth I’m making from “A Glimmer of Perspective,” I would like to make something. So when I went to the Kindle Select program, I upped the price. But there’s another reason for this: I can do free days!

So I’ve decided that I’m going to give presents on my birthday! Anyone who hasn’t picked up a copy of “A Glimmer of Perspective” will be able to download a free copy on January 10, 2014! In fact, you’ll have 2 days, the tenth and the eleventh to pick up my inaugural short story.

I only have two requests! If you enjoy Glimmer, tell a friend and leave a review on the Amazon.com website. The nice thing is, you don’t have to worry about different formats, since the others have been discontinued for the time being.

Anyway, I hope you’ll take this chance to snatch up Glimmer!

Writing Events

Things are going fairly well with “Steam and Magic,” though it’s taking longer than I’d like to write this. I wish I could pound through those 3,000 word days I once could fly through. However, I’ve also been fighting this stupid allergy/cold thing for weeks now, which makes it harder to focus

However, something else really cool has happened. Last week, I successfully launched the OC Inklings, the online critique group for the OC Writers. And we started with “Beyond the Waterfall,” a 9,000 word short story I wrote earlier this year. Originally, the critiquers were supposed to do only 3,000 words, but most of them decided to just go through the entire story! They were too interested to stop, which is always a win in my book. For the most part, I’ve gotten rave reviews on it, but even more importantly, I’ve gotten some excellent advice on how to improve the story. That’s what I’m most excited about it. I think with this advice, I can make this story a smash hit. And I hope for it to be my next Kindle story! It also helps that it leads into the Crafters of Taylin universe. ^^;

I’m looking forward to the next round…because unless no one submits anything, we’ll be doing someone else’s work!

Life

And that’s really it this time. I’m still not feeling great. Sometimes the coughing gets so bad that I get insanely dizzy and actually fall over. Stupid cough. However, I’m happy with the way the writing is going and I’ve had a really good day with Caitlyn today. Tali’s smiling more and more too. And I’m systematically taking over the world with Chaos…in Civilization V. (Heh).

Since it’s my birthday week, you definitely don’t get to escape the Ponies. Here’s the Safety Prance…which I was way too entertained by.

Good luck and have fun folks! Make sure to grab Glimmer this weekend!

-rks

Back to Normal…Sort of

Medical Stuff

First and foremost, Laura’s home. She got some sort of bug that was making her throw up just about everything to the point of serious dehydration. She was in the hospital from 1AM on Sunday morning to about 4PM on Tuesday afternoon. I spent most of my time making sure Caitlyn was taken care of (thanks to my mother, father and a neighbor for watching her while we dealt with all of this) and just trying to be there with her. Ironically, I ended up playing a ton of Civilization V. It’s a perfect game for situations where you need to walk away at a moment’s notice.

She’s fine now, though the last few days have been hard. My short-term disability for stress has been extended up to Tali’s birth, so the good news is I won’t have to go back to work until at least December at the earliest. Laura’s OB/GYN extended her own leave to start a week early too. So that means we’re both at home now.

Ironically, this has become a bit complicated. You see, Laura and I have had opposite schedules for almost 3 years now. It’s an accepted part of life since we had Caitlyn. Caitlyn had become used to this as well. But now that all three of us are home, I don’t think any of us really know how to react. Caitlyn’s acting out a bunch, fighting me for almost everything. And even Laura and I have had our issues, but we both recognize they’re caused by stress with everything that’s going on.

We’re starting to make it work though. It’s a challenge, but it’s worth it, as always.

Writing Time

Another unexpected benefit of this situation is that I was able to attend the OC Writer’s Group for the first time since the first meeting way back at the beginning of the year. It was nice to get to network and socialize with fellow writers and I plan to make a habit of it until Tali is born. I managed to do over 1,100 words there, which was pretty impressive. I normally don’t do well writing in social environments as I tend to get distracted rather easily. So it’s still a big accomplishment for me.

“Sun Eagle” is going pretty well. I’m having a bit of trouble with the middle. It’s okay though since I know the endings. There are two in the story, for two different plot lines. But I’m happy with it so far.

Gaming Time

I’ve found that Civilization V is one of those games that’s great to play while playing other games. I’ve been playing it on the sidelines while playing SW:ToR and WoW. I’ve also finally gotten to the Timeless Isle in WoW and found I really enjoy it, especially the whole hunting for treasure thing. And for SW:ToR, I just played the Maelstrom Prison flashpoint. And that was amazing. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t played it (though I suspect anyone who’s reading this either has already done it or doesn’t care much) but the finale was perfect…though I wondered about the identity of the other character for some time. I didn’t see the identity of the entity though…but it makes sense. I also love that it was the second time matching wits with the Grand Moff. It gives the series a great sense of continuity.

I also just purchased Bioshock: Infinite last night. I’m looking forward to playing that. The first two Bioshocks were dark and seemed to have next to no replay value (at least to me), but I’ve heard such great things about Infinite that I just had to try.

Oh yeah, and trying to get Mods to work on the Mac Steam Civ 5 was a pain in the butt…but worth it. I found it strange that the code itself actually demonstrates how to reactivate the mod system within the game. It was strange. Very strange. It’s like the porting company expected people to do it.

That’s all for this week I think. I’m going to continue working on “Sun Eagle.” But right now, I’m tired. So nothing else super deep.

Today’s Pony Videos are two really good ones.

The first is a silly but ADORABLE like half animation/half music video/half who-knows-what? Caitlyn loves it. And the second…you simply must watch. It’s a great crossover between MLP and another rather famous creation by Lauren Faust currently on Cartoon Network…

Anyway, enjoy them!

Good luck and have fun folks!

-rks

Getting Serious…and Getting Pony

-rks

So, it’s been a week now since I changed up Storming Dawn and transformed it into -rks. You may have also noticed that I have a new website name too! I was very happy to get this new title. It makes it easy to remember. It’ll be awesome once I actually get myself published.

Before you ask, I’m still working on the new page formats and I haven’t had a chance to get them all fixed up yet. Heck, I’m not even sure what I’ll be doing with all of them. But I do like the new theme. The “Daddy, Author, Gamer, Reader, Dreamer” has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

I should mention that I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep in some time. I’m not really sure how long it’s been. It doesn’t help that I may be in what I’ve come to call “The Week of Dreams.” You see, every month or so, I get a week where I seem to have these super-vivid dreams every night. Sometimes is actually multiple dreams each night. You might think this is awesome. It can be cool…but not when I desperately need some serious sleep. Because I wake up more tired than when I lay down. And I rarely get dreams I actually want to remember.

For instance, the dream about our entire freezer being stuffed with frozen Digorno pizzas? Yeah, not exactly inspiring.

Writing

But let’s get down to it. You’re here for the writing. The good news? I finally forced myself to do a “voice edit” of Glimmer of Perspective. I was going for a very particular tone in this story. I don’t usually think too much about tones and voices, since I usually just let that stuff happen naturally, but I knew it was important to make this story work. I like it a lot better now and I feel like I’m close to a finished product.

Yes, I know I only have a few days left until my self-imposed deadline. I’m going to focus on this for the next few days.

Which leads me to my next thing. And this? This is going to be hard.

I’m considering imposing a gaming curfew on myself.

Ugh, I don’t even like writing about it.

You see, I used to take the time to write in the morning before going to work, but that doesn’t work anymore. Caitlyn is always awake now before I leave the house. And she’s sometimes fussy or talking or playing or doing things that would disrupt my concentration. So I can’t do that anymore.

I can’t cut back at work. I already feel like I’m under a whip most days. In fact, I’ve forced myself to spread out my journals to give myself time to actually relax on my breaks instead of working all the time. And the 45 minutes a day 4 days a week during my lunches isn’t cutting it.

So it leaves only one thing. The days I have on my own…I need to start writing again.

I used to have a goal of 1000 words a day. Hell, I used for force myself to do at least a page a day. I haven’t actually written something new since Waterfall a few months ago. And it’s driving me crazy. I need to start writing again!

So this means one of two things: either cut my gaming on my days off to an hour and a half, or force myself to do writing goal before being allowed to game.

In the sense of productivity, I suspect the word count goal will be more effective.

And before you ask, yes I have considered cutting out gaming entirely. However, gaming is one of my favorite past times and an enormous part of my coping mechanism dealing with life in general. I think it would be unwise to remove that.

So, starting in September, I’m going to start a new goal of 1,000 words a day, except for Sunday. 6,000 words a week is good. And I can do that.

I’ll just need you folks to keep me honest. And I meant you human folks. I don’t really care what Google Bots think.

The Conquering Ponies

I’ve had a lot of fun playing Civilization V this week. I downloaded several My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic mods for a game. I’ve really enjoyed the fun Pony artwork, music and leaders. And considering I just whooped Sombra’s tail in a very brief war where I decided to pick out three of his cities and make them mine…ahh…it was good. Hell, Rome tried to take over Cloudsdale right as I was about to start a campaign against a particular city state, only to have the Chinese, Sombra and Nightmare Moon declare war on me in short order.

Pushed back the Chinese to Shanghai. Annihilated the Nightmare Moon forces attacking Ponyville. And defended Cloudsdale without blinking, only to strike back and take two of Rome’s cities. When I had the third, Antium surrounded, Caesar was so desperate he actually gave me Antium to stop me from taking Rome itself.

I allowed it…until Nightmare Moon crossed my borders to go after Rome and I decided to finish Caesar off before Nightmare Moon could get a foothold in my territory.

Sorry, Luna. You’d better be quicker next time.

What? I’m not allowed to conquer nations in real life. Let me do it to pixels. You can’t stop me!

Last Thoughts

This week, I started a new project called “Journey to Equestria: A Retrospective.” It details my flirtations with My Little Pony over the last few years and how the entire family came down with Pony fever. I want to make sure it’s done right, so I’ll probably post that up sometime in the next week or so. It’s going to be a multi part series, which I hope will end with the reasons why I find the show so fun and compelling…and why I think the message it gives is something that cannot be waved away.

But the other thing I found?

“Button’s Adventures.”

This amazing 5 minute short is entirely fan-made and rivals the quality of the actual My Little Pony show. And it’s one of the funniest darn things I’ve ever seen. Since I saw it a few days ago, I’ve probably watched it 20 times, if not more.

Listen, I don’t care if you like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic or not. Take 5 minutes and WATCH IT. All I’m asking is that you TRY it.

It’s not like I’m asking you to swear allegiance to Equestria or something.

Here’s the show:

JanAnimation‘s work is utterly astounding. I cannot believe the quality of his productions.

The next one is specifically targeted for the people who think the whole My Little Pony thing is a bit…odd.

I would like to mention that you are actually hearing John de Lancie (Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Tara Strong (Twilight Sparkle) singing in this video. It’s sort of a promo for the Brony Documentary John de Lancie produced.

The last one? Because I like it and it’s fun.

Sorry, no ulterior motive here.


Anyway, that’s all for this week folks. I hope you guys and gals are doing great.

Oh, and I’m also trying one more thing. I’m going to force myself to comment on 5 different posts of different people a week. And not just random comments, but something intelligent and insightful. So if you’ve actually reached the bottom of this page, congratulations.

You get a cookie.

It’s in the mail.

Trust me.

 

Good luck and have fun!

-rks