Day 50 – Half way through the 100 words in 100 days challenge

I’m half way through my self-imposed challenge to write 100 words a day for 100 days.

You’d think it would be easy…

I’m beginning to get an appreciation of what the life of a daily columnist must be like. A need to come up with a set amount of words day in and day out regardless of what else is going on.

I’d lost track of how many posts I’d written, but fortunately checked yesterday and realised today is half way.

To be honest, I’m struggling.

The last couple of weeks I’ve found myself slipping in my commitment to write tomorrow’s posts today. I’ve been posting late in the day and have not been able to keep a focus on what I would be writing next.

That has allowed me to come up with some posts I wouldn’t have written otherwise, but it is not developing the discipline I want.

If you’re interested, here are the high level numbers:

Over the last 24 days I’ve published another 11,308 words. That’s 2,000 words more than in the first 25 days! My average has gone up to 471 words a day from 410! I had wanted to write less each day, but in general, am not managing it.

However, one post in particular really bumped that number up: 10 ways to fail at publishing and marketing your book was 2,172 words. If I exclude that post, my total and average are very similar.

I’m now working as a full time writer and had planned to have written 15,000 words towards my sequel to Fallen Warriors by this time. I’m only at 4,165… The planning is taking me longer than I’d hoped. I should have expected it. I’m adding characters and am trying to plot out two novels instead of just one. I will keep on persevering!

Looking at whether people are actually reading this blog is useful:

The fact is that the spikes I’ve seen in page views are all due to publishing information that’s useful for other authors (that big spike in the middle also due to the 10 ways to fail post…) I’m glad to share this, but longer term, I come back to the big question, who I am writing this blog for?

I’m feeling more and more strongly that I want to aim this blog at readers. That I want to write posts that will encourage people to want to read more of my writing. I wonder if that means posting more flash fiction, but also sharing short stories, or even teasers, the first page of a story to encourage people to buy or sign up to my mailing list to read the rest.

Of course that would mean writing more short stories and I’m not sure I’m there yet in terms of being able to do that. At least not until my next novel is complete.

I am planning to publish some book reviews over the summer and have some other posts planned, so will be working with that for now.

Onwards and upwards!

The word of the Lord

I was reading the book of first Samuel this morning and was struck by this verse: “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him.” 1 Samuel 3 v 7 KJV If you’re not familiar with the story, Samuel was a young boy who had been conceived after his barren mother had prayed at the temple. After he had been weaned, his mother had given the boy back to God to serve him in the temple.

I love the way God is sometimes described as The Word. The first verse of the book of John especially uses this description to associate Jesus as being The Word of God: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1 v 1 KJV

I relate this to the first chapter in Genesis where God said… And then there was. Without God’s words, nothing around us would exist. Without God’s words, we would not have life. Without The Word of God, without Jesus, we would not be able to know God, to talk to him, to hear him.

Until this point in Samuel’s life, the word of the Lord had not been revealed to him… Which seems really important to me. Samuel had been living in God’s temple, had been sleeping next to the Ark of the Covenant. It seems inconceivable that Samuel did not know of God, did not know who he was. Samuel must have hear about God from the priest Eli, must have heard and maybe even read some of the books of the law. Yet the word of the Lord had not been revealed to him…

Reading on, we see that after Samuel had been told to tell the Lord that he was listening, the Lord – the Word of the Lord – came and stood next to him. The Lord spoke and Samuel listened and finally we read “And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh: for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.” 1 Samuel 3 v 21 KJV

It seems to me that it is not enough to know about God, not enough to read his word and hear about him. If we don’t have a relationship with God where we are able to talk, where we are listening and waiting for him to speak, then we do not know him.

God is speaking to us, to me, to you. Will you take time to listen, to hear what he has to say?

A strong tower

The name of the Lord is a strong tower

I woke up this morning to a disturbing article. One I won’t share here yet – please forgive my reticence, what is the saying: “fools rush in where angels fear to tread…”

This morning I was able to go for a jog (at the speed I’m moving I don’t feel I can class it as a run!) and was able to take the photo above. I love to see ancient walls and towers being preserved and remembered, symbols of strength, of protection.

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10 KJV

Day two in the author’s house…

Let me start by saying I’m not planning to spend every day from now on recording the minutiae of writing a novel. I wanted to hold myself accountable through this blog and that’s the purpose of this post.

A week ago I posted my regimented writing plan. If I stick to that plan, I’m certain to complete at least one draft of 100,000 words in four weeks of writing. If I’m writing…

As I always do when I finish a contract, I wrote up a to do list. A list of all the things I’ve not had time for during the contract. There is always a conflict between what I want to do, what I need to do and what I feel I have to do.

On top of family and work related responsibilities, I spent a large part of Tuesday and Wednesday finishing off a final edit and format of the print edition of Fallen Warriors

Yesterday evening, after two days where I imagined I might plot out two novels – and managed only to begin that process, I put that dream on hold and started writing. This morning I continued writing, reasoning that I might need to explore the characters’ stories further before the overall plot of the book becomes clear.

I wasn’t up this morning as sharp as I wanted though and haven’t kept to my regimented plan. Today I’ve been working on preparing for a meet the author event I’m going to be part of in September. Tomorrow I may have to switch off my phone!

On the positive though, I went for a short run today, my first attempt at exercise in over a month. I wrote 2047 words in 225 minutes spread over the whole day. I’ve developed a new character, well, three of them actually for a story that may run across both sequels.

I’ve failed to meet my target word count, but there’s always tomorrow and each day I write is one day closer to realising my goal of publishing a sequel to Fallen Warriors!

Act One, Scene One

Well, I finally went and did it… I’ve written the first scene of Fallen Warriors Season Two and if I say so myself, it’s pretty good!

I confess, I still don’t have a full plot, just a vague outline, but I felt this evening I had to make a start as otherwise I could waste a full week trying to figure out what happens next and for everything I’ve written up to now, there has always been an element of the story determining the story.

So, if you enjoyed the first Fallen Warriors novel and are wondering when the next is coming out… It’s on it’s way!

The cleaner is coming

The cleaner is coming
The cleaner is coming
Unblock the drain and swab that stain.
The cleaner is coming
The cleaner is coming
Make those beds, don’t shake your heads!
The cleaner is coming
The cleaner is coming
Pick up those clothes and wipe your nose.
Tidy these papers, off of the bench.
Clear each surface, so they can dust.
The cleaner is coming
The cleaner is coming
Clear the hallway and wash those dishes!
Are all these yours? What now? What next!
Here, take to your room. I said now! Not soon…
The cleaner is coming
The cleaner is coming
And now
the house
is clean…
Remind me,
why is the cleaner coming?

A long weekend

We arrived back in Scotland yesterday after a long weekend driving down to a reunion and back again.

If you’ve been following this blog you’ll have seen I didn’t manage to schedule in a post for early on Sunday. The first day of my 100 words in 100 days challenge that I was unprepared for.

On Thursday I finished a contract with a client, not knowing for certain whether they wanted me to come back in this week to do some more work. I find it hard to plan ahead when I don’t know if I’ll be working or even where…

Fortunately we’d been planning to take this weekend away for months. A chance to catch up with friends that ended up being a perfect round up to the contract and preparation for beginning the new project – writing the sequel to Fallen Warriors.

There’s a lot of uncertainty in my life right now. I don’t know for sure what direction this novel will take. I don’t know when I’ll next be working. I’m not even sure what I’ll post on this blog over the next few days…

I see that uncertainty mirrored in National and World events. Will Britain leave the European Union? Will our economy collapse?

There’s a disturbing chapter in the Bible – Matthew 24. It records Jesus responding to his disciples questions about when the temple would be destroyed and what would be the sign of Jesus returning and of the “end of the age?”

Jesus tells them of a series of sign posts events, many of which have already happened and are calamitous enough, but then goes on to talk about even more disturbing events that call into question the nature of our reality.

Given that Jesus kept messing with our understanding of reality – healing the sick and disabled just by placing his hands on them, raising the dead back to life, commanding a storm to be quiet and even cursing a tree so it shrivelled and died – when he talks about the sun being darkened and the stars falling from the sky, he does so from a position of authority.

To all those who love Jesus, this chapter is one of hope, a promise that no matter how bad things get, Jesus will return and will reward us for faithfulness to him. If you do not love Jesus then this is a warning to you, that any leader who promises things will only get better is lying to you, that war and turmoil will get worse, that one day you will be judged by the God who created you.

Jesus was sent by God to call us back to him, to take our place receiving the punishment we deserve for rejecting our creator, for the sin we have committed.

Jesus calls us to repent of sin, to seek him, to seek his forgiveness and follow him.

Will you follow Jesus today?

Sharpening my axe

You’ve heard the story of ol’ Abe Lincoln who allegedly said that if you need to cut down a tree quickly, the first thing you should do is spend time sharpening your axe.

All being well, I’m planning to spend tomorrow (my first day of writing the sequel to Fallen Warriors) on the writers equivelant: plotting, gathering my notes, brainstorming, mindmapping and generally trying to set out a structure to guide me as I set out to write two novels in two months.

Maybe I’ll actually spend some time writing, but I’m sure that I’ll get more done over the next weeks if I’ve got a plan to follow than if I’m constantly struggling to work out how to connect everything together. I’ll let you know how it goes…

Better late than never…

Is it better to be late than never?

For your own funeral?

I guess you could argue that both ways…

For your wedding?

In all honesty, it depends…

Every time?

To those who depend on you, the lines may become blurred…

Every now and then?

Yes. Sometimes it might be better late than never. Other times, never may be preferrable.

Today I am late. I could have just left it, I’m taking a weekend away and didn’t manage to pre-schedule a post for today.

It wouldn’t have mattered to take a day off, right?

Except, in my heart I believe – it’s better late than not at all.

Proof Reading for Dummies

So here’s my dummies guide to proof reading…

Take a book, start at the beginning, read slowly until the end and make a note of every mistake you find.

Simples…

Except… It’s really, really difficult when it’s a book you’ve written!

At some point I’m going to have to start paying a professional to proof read my novels. Until then there is no other option but to rely on the kindness of friends who have an eye for punctuation and grammar and spelling; and also to pick up my own book… Again and again and again until I’ve read it so many times that it’s almost stopped being my story and just become words on a page.

Tell you what though, the advice to start at the back of your book and read each page in reverse order does help.

Also, getting a physical proof copy printed up makes a big difference. I noticed a space where it had no right to be, fifty pages in. I must have read that passage a dozen times on screen, but seeing it there on a physical page, it stood out like a… Well, like a space invader… Please don’t shoot me 😉

I’ve heard that reading your book out loud is also a good technique. I’m not quite there yet with that one, but for some passages it has been useful.

How do you ensure your book is as free as possible from those irritating typos?