Thursday, September 17, 2015

I’ve Got Twelve-and-a-Half Percent of a Plan

Just in case you thought I’d gone completely offline, I’m back.

This time out, I want to let everyone in the blogosphere know what my writing plans are - at least up to the end of the year. They’re pretty ambitious too.

Anyone reading this blog only has to look to the right to see that there isn’t much of a publication history there. Well, that would be a bit deceiving, really. It’s an iceberg and you’re only seeing the tip.

There’s two short story contest stories which started me down a long path with IFWA (The Imaginative Fiction Writer’s Association), one of which I won, there are the judging duties for the same contest I have done for the past few years, and then there are the critiques: I count upwards of 300 of them in the past five years alone.

So I’ve been busy.

Oh yeah, then there’s that novel. My first, as yet unpublished, novel entitled “The Last Miko.” It almost drove me to drink getting it done, but it’s done and I learned a lot about myself and the writing process. And now it is in the hands of another publisher. So, I’m hopeful.

But that’s not much of a plan, is it? I’ve accomplished a fair bit, but what am I doing for an encore?

Well, I’m not doing NaNoWriMo. My family won’t let me disappear for an entire month. I’d probably come home one day to find my kids have grown up and my wife has shacked up with a cabana boy. So NaNoWriMo is not on the horizon.

But I do have plans. At least, part of a plan. Okay, maybe a concept.

Before I begin, aside from the novel, my short story, Rose’s Arm, is in the hands of two anthology editors at Hidden Youth (a Crossed Genre publication where I’ve been published before). It’s been in their hands for a month now, so I am hopeful. Maybe I’ll have some good news next month. At least I have some skin in the game.

So, here we go:

First, against at least one other person’s better judgment, I am taking Creative Writing courses at the University of Calgary. Yeah, I should be writing. But these courses are making me write. My next course, Creative Writing Explorations (which begins next week), forces me to write at least one short story during its scant eight weeks of class. I might even be able to eke out a second. I’ve already got a bare outline for the first (which I plan to write right after I finish this post). And yes, I do plan on sending it out for publication after it is finished.

Second, I have not one, but TWO anthologies to submit to. The first one is Burnt, the second IFWA anthology. As you know, I had my story “The Trials of Li-Wen” published in the first IFWA anthology, Enigma Front (which you can buy if you click on the link, hint hint), so now I want to publish in the next. No due date on that one. The second one is another Asian-themed anthology that starts reading submissions between December and May 2016. I have a long time for that one, so we’ll see.

Third, I have at least one novel outline to finish that I am really excited about. It is not a sequel to The Last Miko, but a wuxia novel that I have high hopes for. The outline has to be done by early next year, so I have my work cut out for me.

So when am I going to get all this done AND write a weekly blog? And weekly Creative Writing class assignments? And critiques? Yeah, something has to give. At this point, I’m looking at the crits because lately, they’ve all been longer, novel-length works.

I'll check in every month to let you know how my plan is coming along. Or if it's just a concept.

So now it's your turn. Am I biting off more than I can chew again? Or is it an ambitious, but do-able schedule to complete while being a full time wage-slave with a young family? Let me know in the comments below.

At least I’ll be writing.

This Week's Reason to Read: Wayward: Volume 1 - String Theory. a graphic novel by Jim Zubkavich published by Image Comics. And just as I tell the world about "The Last Miko," I discover a graphic novel that covers some of the same territory. It's as if Buffy the Vampire Slayer went to school in Tokyo. High energy action set in a realistic Tokyo setting (at least as realistic as you can get with magic and Yokai). Check it out.

I might even get the hardcover version which comes out in October. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Top 5 Apps for Writers part 2

Last week I put up three of my Top 5 Apps for Writers. If you haven't read it yet, read it first. It includes my criteria for choosing these apps.  So, go here and read it first before I get to my Top 2 Apps. Otherwise, let's begin:

2. Evernote and Goodreader: This one is a toss-up. Every author needs some place to store research and recall it at a moment's notice. These two help with that. Evernote has the advantage of being cross-platform compatible and ubiquitous. However, unless you upgrade, you cannot access your files without wi-fi. Goodreader stores files and PDF's on your device so they are accessible all the time, but they don't store them in the cloud so it is not quite cross-platform compatible.

1. Ulysses by The Soulmen: My number one app is number one for the same reason that Scrivener is not on the list. It is a text editor that has all the features that I look for. It is easy to use and intuitive. It helps me focus on writing. It also helps me organize everything. I can put Scenes and Chapters in one Folder, and in another folder I can put Character descriptions and bios. In another folder, I can put in setting and in another. I can move these sheets from one folder to another, switch the order of the sheets AND MOST IMPORTANT - it is available on the Mac and iOS (it is not yet available for the iPhone, but it is only a matter of time). I can start with an idea on Drafts, move the draft to a page on Ulysses on my iPad, and then open it up on my desktop Mac or MacBook Air and not worry about whether or not I am working on a different version. The only downside is the cost for both the Mac and iPad App. But don't let that dissuade you. This App is a fantastic value.You can always wait for a sale.

Runners Up:

Scrivener by Literature & Latte: As a writing App, Scrivener is THE reason to by a Macintosh computer (desktop or laptop). It is hands down the best writing app out there. You can do everything that Ulysses can do AND store all your research in your computer. But if you want to use Scrivener on the go and on iOS, you're out of luck. Rumoured to be in development for several years, an iOS app is still vapourware. It is apparently in beta. You can use other iOS apps and sync with it in Dropbox, but I don't want workarounds. I want the real thing. Maybe next year my Top 5 will be different. Maybe not. I will be pleasantly surprised if it makes out for NaNoWriMo this year.

Textblade by Waytools: Not an app, but is perhaps the piece of hardware you need to get if you are going to type on iOS. Since the early days of iPad and iPhone, I have tried hard to make the iPad work as a content machine and not just a consumption machine. But typing on glass is weird and off-putting and I found it hard to really get a lot done. All that changed when I got a bluetooth keyboard. I suddenly had touch typing back. Textblade takes this to the next level by making that keyboard small enough to fit in your pocket. Next year, I’ll bring it back to the WWC and show you how it works, but right now, it is still “in transit.” I hoped to have it here, but some manufacturing problems have delayed it.

So there it is: my top 5 Apps as of August, 2015. Now it is your turn. What are your favorite apps. iOS or Android, it doesn't matter. Just let me know in the comments below. I am always willing to try new apps to help improve my writing. 

This Week's Reason to Read: The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin and translated by Ken Liu: Winner of the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel, this is a novel about an alien invasion by the Trisolarans. It is the first book in a trilogy entitled Remembrance of Earth's Past. I haven't read this yet, and it wasn't on my radar, but the Hugo Award has put it right at the top of my list of books to consume before year's end. Check it out.

That's it for this week. Sorry this post was a bit late. Watch out for the next one later this week.