Crazy Weeks

It’s midway through September and Heather and I are both ready for a break, but we won’t get a slow down until, I dunno, mid-October? The last couple weeks have seen Heather working hard at birthday party stuff for Cecilia, and this weekend I’m attending a local writer’s conference. The kids days off of school start within a couple of weeks, including their first two and half week break at the beginning of October, so busy.

The kids are still excited about getting a new sibling. The novel is coming along nicely. I sold one copy of the short story. I think Amazon’s page told me to over price it and am dropping it down to $0.99 for a few weeks to see if there’s any difference. I’ve also started one of two non-fiction books in an undeserved niche that I think will be worth the effort. I hope to have the first one live by the end of the month. That does mean less short stories being written, but I think that’s ok for now. I think the non-fiction novel is going to be better at getting some income in the short-term whereas short stories are part of the longer-term play.

Some freelance writing work should be coming in the next month. I found a service that pays alright, not as well as direct contract work, but better than similar services traditionally have. The other thing I believe to be true is that I’ll actually be able to refer back to the work I do for them as examples (“clips” in the biz) for prospective direct clients. Ultimately this is a way to get income on the way in while building up a base of released books. I see writing such as this as the short-term filler for the long-term game of being an author.

That’s all for now. Every minute writing this is minutes not writing other stuff!

Windows 10 Woes

August is coming to a close which means it’s State Fair season back in Minnesota. I hope to get us to visit that fair again in the next few years. Every year is obviously not happening anymore, but I do miss it.

Out here the kids have settled into school and the new routine. The computers in the house have been having issues though. Since the upgrade to Windows 10 mine has been restarting as much as 4 times a day blaming the video driver. (Usually about once every 12 hours though) Some searching has revealed the issue to possibly be related to having an SSD as a primary and a SATA as a secondary drive. I hope whatever it is it gets fixed fast. I am working such that stuff is saved to the cloud in near real-time, but it’s frustrating when the computer restarts two times in less than an hour. The laptop is better, but still restarts occasionally and has screen blackouts once in a while.

All of this wouldn’t be quite as bad if I had income coming in by now, but that hasn’t yet happened. The freelance bit is hard to get started due to my lack of connections and introvert tendencies. I’ve been trying to vary my marketing approach to get results. I think I need to figure out how to offer a writing service a company needs to them still. the novel is almost ready to be written. I’ve got it mostly planned and the group I’m in has September as a writing month. I’d love to see the first two books of the trilogy written by next year, and that’s not too far-fetched. I’ve started working on some in-world short stories to help build a mailing list and maybe even get early sales, but of course as a new author that can’t justify spending $300 on a cover for a <5,000 word short story that’s not likely to make more than $50 over the next few months. (It’s about the ROI of the investment. the math just doesn’t work yet.) The job market continues to not be great. I’ve had a few leads over the last month, but they have either been development jobs, to far to commute, or didn’t result in an interview.

Speaking of the short stories. The first one, bad cover and all, is out now and currently free. (Amazon Link) I won’t get any royalties if you pick it up now, but if you do and can honestly leave a positive review, that can only help me. Something to remember, it’s a science fiction/cyberpunk short. If you’re a die-hard romance reader you probably won’t like it. However, you could send it to someone you know that likes that type of story?

That’s all for now. I really want to finish that outline ASAP. Hopefully tonight, probably tomorrow. Writing month starts Thursday.

August is Half Over?

Somehow we managed to make it to the mid-point of August. Wow.

The kids are settling into school. Cecilia is taking to the new schedule with a little bit of difficulty, but I suppose that’s to be expected. Gideon struggled with it too.

I’m still struggling to find my place as a freelance writer. I know technology and can write for it, but I’m struggling to write compelling Letters Of Introduction (LOI) to companies. I think my problem at this point is a lack of identifying specifically what I will write for them. I tend to leave it open, kind of a “let me know what you need” statement instead of a “let me write you a <type of writing job>” statement. I think I can overcome this if I do a bit better research on the companies before I send out letters.

The novel-writing is coming along. I’ve narrowed a focus to Cyberpunk and am working on knowing my story. That means I’m meeting the characters, touring the setting, and figuring out the story/plot points. It’s going alright. By the end of the month I should have a solid outline with enough detail to allow me to flow out the novel itself. Based on my typing speed when I’m not trying to figure out a story to tell that means I’ll easily finish on track for a February or so release.

I guess an author’s mailing list is their lifeblood, and I have two ideas of freebies to entice people to join a mailing list. Thing is, I need to write them alongside the books. One should do for a mailing list reward, the others can become novellas or short stories on Kindle Unlimited I think. For now, I have nothing other than the offer of a newsletter at unknown intervals to entice people to join.

Speaking of that mailing list, please feel free to join it here. You’ll be in the “in club” when I make it as a successful author later. You’ll be like those kids that were all “I’ve known about <insert band name here> for years, they’re selling out now” when your friends ask if you’ve heard of this new Sci-Fi author. Or not. Hopefully not, nobody wants to be one of those kids…

(Here’s a big long version of that link in case the one above got hidden. thanks for joining!)

And July’s Almost Over

It’s been an intense two weeks. It honestly feels more like a month has gone by in some respects. With the kids out of school and somewhat around most days it’s been a little harder focusing on freelance building and novel-writing than I had hoped. If a couple of months from now we can see a future from this direction I may need to look at a laptop for me so I can go to remote locations regularly. Right now I would need to take the one Heather uses. It would be OK for me to take it on occasion and test working elsewhere, but it wouldn’t be a permanent solution.

On the freelance writing front I’ve spent some time trying to refine my marketing efforts. The most important thing a freelance writer has to market themselves is their clips. (Examples of their work for others.) As someone new to freelance writing I don’t have clips. I have years of writing here on this website, and over 75 articles at OurAgileJourney.com. The problem here is two-fold. The stuff written here is mostly personal blogging. It’s audience is family, friends, and weird internet stalkers. (Yeah, you know I’m talking to you. It is weird. We have no connection. Either introduce yourself or stop. Your life will be better for it. 🙂 ) The stuff at the other site is written professionally, but it wasn’t on-spec/commissioned/written for hire stuff. I’m working a couple of angles to try and get clips to put up. I’m offering a discount on the first project for clients and am willing to talk to non-profits about doing pro-bono writing projects. I am attempting to find and target tech companies large enough to hire out writing services but small enough to not use a large national marketing firm. I’m also trying to start with relatively local companies in hopes of that angle helping my pitch.

The novel-writing apprenticeship has started and wow! The talent represented is intimidating. Many involved are full-time authors already, working to go from making a living to making a really good living. Some are branching into a new genre for the first time. Some are trying to improve the catalog in their current genre. I find myself wanting to soak up all the knowledge and creativity they have to offer and being a little timid about contributing. If I create and maintain connections with a handful of the people from this group over the course of the next 9 months it’ll be worth it. Not to mention that I’m pretty sure it’ll be close to impossible for any of us to not get at least novel #1 written in a 3-5 book series in the environment created by the group. I hope to have #’s 1 and 2 done with #3 either done or close by February. I also plan to turn around and start another series as we finish. I’ll be looking for Science Fiction fans later this year to do beta reading, so feel free to let me know and I’ll make sure you get invited to a mailing list. (Which I don’t have set up yet.)

That’s all for now. Next time I update the kids should be back in school. This two month summer break just flew by!

Where is the Summer Going?

I thought it had been two weeks since my last update, but it’s been a month. Sorry about that for those that have been keeping up with them.

The last month has seen a big change. Heather and I have decided to let my job search fall into a passive mode while I attempt to build a career out of freelance writing and authoring novels. We will re-examine this decision after a few months to see if it still seems viable. If some nibbles come up I will pursue them, but I am not currently actively looking.

I have started to qualify and contact companies for freelance writing work. I plan to ramp up my volume on this one to contacting 25 companies a week and re-contacting them after 4 weeks. This is largely a numbers game. Of all the companies that I contact some percentage should be viable prospects looking to get some writing stuff done. As I build a client base I am offering a discounted rate for the first project. If you or anyone you know might have a need for a freelance writer I would love to hear from you or them.

On the novel front I have it out with some readers, and I need to spend some time this month following up looking for feedback. The next novel is outlined and I am ready to start blocking out scenes. There is something more to this one though. I have joined a group doing an apprenticeship on writing good genre fiction with some very successful authors. The idea is to find the intersection of what you love to write and what the market is buying and create a novel in that space. Over the course of the apprenticeship we will go from choosing a genre (no story idea required) to marketing and releasing the novel. This process is not one that I will use the middle grade fiction for. I think I am going to do Science Fiction for it and currently have a very general story arc for 3 books with a 4th kind of hinting at me. This was not an easy choice as there was not only a decent financial commitment, but there is a time and effort commitment as well. If all goes as planned with this there will be at least two of the novels out by this time next year. A downside is that this may slow down my hoped for progress on the middle grade fiction work. An upside is that I expect it to accelerate a fiction writing career dramatically for me, shaving a good 1-2 years off of what it would otherwise take to see a path to living off of that alone and providing a network of like-minded individuals that would otherwise take years to build.

That’s pretty much it for now. The next few months to a year will require hard work and dedication, but I think the end result will be worth it.

Short Week

This week I managed to get the novel both entered into a local contest and out to some people who are going to do beta reading for me. It is being sent with a pen-name because some of the people have kids that would recognize my name and possibly skew their feedback. I have started on the next story arc and hope to be outlining by this time next week.

The job front continues to be quiet without much posted and very little action when things are.

On the freelance front I have a very basic site set up at adammyhr.com. Next week I’ll add some detail and start actively pursuing clients. With that in mind if you or anyone you know have any projects that include freelance writing or editing I’d love to talk. As an added bonus I’ll work out some great rates if you (or someone you know) contacts me in the next two weeks and mentions this post – even outside of the technology space.

Stories on Some Days in May?

Obviously I’ve fallen off the daily story bandwagon I started at the beginning of the month. Interestingly it happened as I finished the novel. I think somewhere in my mind the stories helped me with the novel, so as the novel entered edit/revision/feedback stage the stories became a chore. I’m trying to fix my perspective on that one and get back to daily stories while planning the next novel in the set. I’ve finished the initial edit of the novel and am going to contact people this week about being beta readers. I’m putting together a kind of guide sheet on what kind of feedback I’m looking for. It’s my first time ever trying to get beta readers for something so there is some research involved.

The job search is slowing as summer gets underway. I actually had a recruiter tell me the market is getting very slow and they hope to see it pick up as the summer progresses. In my experience recruiters tend to be eternally optimistic about placing candidates, so this isn’t the best news to hear.

With the job search being as stagnant as it is this week I am planning to get a freelance writer website up and running and start prospecting for clients. I’ve taken some professional development courses related to freelance writing and have a couple more lined up to take. I’ll post an update here once it’s live.

Shifting

I didn’t finish this yesterday. I started it, but then I got myself sidetracked by games on the phone and lost track of time. I’ve been itching to write some Sci-Fi stuff, so this is. It’s technically from a prompt last week. I had hoped to do some catch up, but that’s seeming unlikely now. I like the ideas here and may use them in future stuff.

ReTelling A Folk Or Fairy Tale

This is one of my favorite prompts of all time!

The prompt

Re-write a fairytale

<– Write Below This Line –>

Continue reading

Goodbye Soccer, Hello Baseball

First, I’ve fallen behind on the daily short stories. I will write at least one today, and perhaps get a couple of extra’s done to make up for lost time. There is a reason though. I finished the first draft of the novel! Next week I will do an editing read-through. I hope it only takes a few dedicated hours. I guess the amount of story re-write I have to do will play into that. As part of that I will contact various people and ask them to beta read it for me. What that means is they’ll get an electronic copy of a minimally edited version. I can do word files for people who can’t help but edit as they read (Though that isn’t the type of feedback I’m really striving for). I can also do e-pub and mobi for those who can resist the copy-editing. I cannot do Apple Book formats as I have no Mac. I will ask these readers to provide feedback on the books flow, story, continuity (of characters, setting, story), reading level, and anything else they can think of. I would like to know what they think and why. Suggestions for improvement are welcome also. The book is a general fiction book. It is set in a small midwest town at about this time period. The target audience is juvenile/middle grade. (3-5th, the same reading level as Hatchet by Gary Paulsen for instance.) I would love to get a couple of kids from that age group to read it and do a sort of book report as well. If you are interested or have kids that fit the bill please contact me and we can discuss details.

In a bit of family news Cecilia is done with Soccer and Gideon is starting baseball, with Heather coaching. As we head into the last week of school what our summer will look like is still a little up in the air, but “on the bright side” we only need to figure out 2 months due to the strangely modified schedule our kids school has.

Over the last few years our Amazon Affiliate account shut down due to tax laws and moving. I looked into it this year as I started to investigate setting up an author account and discovered that due to newer laws the affiliate program is available in this state now. As such, links will start appearing in the posts. (I tend to limit to in-line text links with occasional relevant image links.) If you click through we get a small percentage of purchases made, even if it’s not what you clicked. If you update your Amazon bookmark to http://amzn.to/1RhStn6 then we’ll be defaulted to get the affiliate benefit for any time you visit. This doesn’t hurt you at all and it helps us out so please consider it. Let me know if you have any questions on how it would work.

The job search is hitting a bit of a summer slump. Fewer positions available and not many new ones popping up. To compensate next week, though it’s busy, I hope to step up the classes on freelancing I’m in progress on. If things there go extraordinarily well I’ll have multiple freelance clients in June and be making enough that we can seriously consider me building that instead of continuing to pursue other employment. Realistically, if I’m not working in June I hope to at least be bringing in something from freelancing to relieve financial pressure.

That’s all for today. I look forward to getting this early 1st draft of a 1st story out to some people and hearing feedback on how to improve it before seriously looking at publishing it.

Bryce’s Painter

This is today’s prompt. It didn’t flow as well as I would have liked. Definitely one that could use cleaning up. I think there’s a solid short story concept in it.

 

Tell The Story Of A Painting

Today’s prompt is a reminder that it’s quite all right to be inspired by other artists work!

The Prompt

Write the story of a picture

Tips

*You can pick a favorite picture, or use one of these examples

<– Write Below This Line –>

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fc/Merry_company,_by_Dirck_Hals.jpg

Bryce faked the life he wanted. Everyone knew this, except Bryce. Bryce faked it so long he actually believed the lie. He believed every piece of cutlery was made of pure silver. In his mind all the chairs had real gold painted on them. The tablecloth was made from the finest silk in the world he lived in.

“Bryce must we pose for yet another painting? We really need to go out and work – fund this lie that you live in.”

Mabel gasped in astonishment. “Stephan, how dare you! Nobody is living a lie here. We only work if we want to, that is the right of nobility.”

Bryce smiled. “Thank you Mabel dear. I believe Stephan will spend this painting in the back. It will be a glorious painting, catching the true beauty of our fine clothing.”

The painter hired by Bryce looked around in confusion until Mabel started whispering to him. “Ah. Mr. Bryce, I am not sure I ca catch the true beauty of such fine clothing. The grandeur of this room blinds me and makes my work pale in comparison to the real thing.”

“Non-sense. I have seen your work. You are a true master and I firmly believe that what you paint will be exactly what is real in the moment.”

“Very well sir. If I could get you all around this table here. I will need this side of the table open so I can see all of you at one time. Now, get comfortable, this will be a while.”

The painter started his work. Mabel had told him to embellish what he actually saw, make things seem better than they were. He started with her. She had only eyes for Bryce in his world. Even though she looked longingly at his friend Theadore in this room, the painter pointed her eyes squarely at Bryce. As he looked up he noticed she now looked right at him.

Next he moved to Francis. Francis had eyes only for Edith. This felt wrong, Bryce was the center of the world and everyone wanted to be like him, so he pointed Francis at Mabel, leaning him in longingly. Stephan had been banished to the back and looked sullen. This was unacceptable for one of his paintings so in the painted world Stephan smiled, content with his place. Looking up to see who was next the painter noticed that Stephan had a small smile on now.

And so it went that painter created a painting that showed a better world for Bryce than the one he saw. Everything the painter portrayed seemed to be true to life upon his second look.

After they finished Mabel paid for the painters time and sent him away. As she looked over the painting she started to get a concerned expression. “Where did you find this painter Bryce?”

Bryce looked back at Mabel, away from the fine goblets hanging above the mantel. “I’m not sure, why my love?”

Mabel looked up, not remembering ever seeing the goblets before. “Nothing love.” Mabel wasn’t sure what to say. She liked the new decor in their room but she felt sorry for poor Gertrude who had a strange curve in her back now though.

“Look Mabel, I can touch my knee with my right hand. I wonder why I can’t do the same with my left?”

“I’m not sure my love. Maybe next time we can find a painter who does better at painting people?”