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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Mid-Year Adjustments

Yeah, I know we're past mid-year. But I've been giving this some thought since then on what to do.

The problem? If you go back to my new year goals, and what has happened since, you'll see the problem. The two serials I planned on putting out monthly, nada. The books I intended to edit, publish, or write--no movement. In fact, until last week, I'd not written one piece of fiction all year. So not only am I not going to make my goals, but I won't show any progress on them at all if I don't change something.

In my evaluation on what I need to do differently, I've come up with a strategy. One item in that strategy involves my approach to my list of projects. Part of what happened is it quickly became obvious that I didn't have the time to swallow that whole elephant. I hadn't planned in taking bite-size pieces. So when potential time to write did pop up, I was faced with a huge job, and no plan on where to take the bite my time afforded me. So it was always easier to opt for some other task.

So my first task is to prioritize what projects I'm going to work on aside from my weekly commitments. That's why I'm writing this post. Both to let my readers know (all two of you--you know who you are) why the blog and my announcements of new books have been silent this year, and for my own benefit to go through the process of doing this.

I'll add, I think I need to start off with writing something. I need to get back in the game on fiction. Who knows, I may even blog my progress, however long it takes.

I'll also state that I've decided to get out of Nano mode. Nano is short for the "National Novel Writing Month" annually held in November. That is often abbreviated to NaNoWriMo (the first two/three letters of each word) and Nano is obviously even shorter, being the first four letters of that. I first did Nano in 2006 and didn't have a break until 2011 (due to the effects of discovering my wife's infidelity that year, and the rush to get my non-fiction How to Make an Ebook out before Christmas). Most of my novels have been written during the Novembers of those years.

In other words, most of my writing the rest of the year didn't involve novels. Those only happened in November, and the last three years, that happened only once. The more I've learned about successfully making this my primary income and job, the more it has been obvious I need to put out a lot more than one novel a year. One a quarter would be a good goal to shoot for. But even two a year would be a step in the right direction. To do that, I need to start treating every month like Nano, not just November. Write a novel. When finished with it, start a new one with a short break. If it takes two months to write it instead of one, so be it. But consistently write something most every night.

So here is my list of projects/bites I'll do starting this week in order of priority. I'm going to take my list from earlier this year and organize it.

  1. Reality GameVirtual Chronicles series. Need to pick up where I left off, which is like chapter 1 or something. I started it for Nano last November, but didn't have the gumption to finish it, instead worked on writing a Christmas devotional.

  2. Edit the 12 Days of Christmas devotional I did and republish by the end of November.

  3. The Magic Within – Need to edit for my publisher so she can finally publish it, if she still has a mind to.

  4. Healing Infidelity Through Faith – Follow up to Healing Infidelity, written more specifically to the Christian market. Need to finish writing it and working toward getting it published.

  5. Rebellion – My serial experiment. Partially written. Need around another 10 chapters/episodes for the first novel.

  6. Poetry Book – Need to finish editing and publish.

  7. Anthology – An anthology of stories I've written in 2013 – 2014, mostly 2013 unless the rest of this year becomes productive.

  8. Devotional – Finish writing a devotional on the parables.

  9. Introducing Orthodoxy - Write/compile articles for this book, then edit and publish it. A goal I've had since 2003.

I could list more, but that will do for a start. Also, the ones further down on the list may get reshuffled as they rise on the list. The new series, for example, which The Magic Within starts, I've written another book which needs serious editing, and the first few chapters of a third book. Planning two more books in the series for a total of five. I didn't include all those projects. Plus I have the outline and several chapters written of a YA dragon story that I tried to do in 10 days last year. That will get added to the list. I have half of my first novel I ever wrote rewritten that I want to eventually get back to, and the two other books I'd planned in that series. I'll be doing good to get all that done before I'm unable to write or die. So the actual list is quite long.

First up, however, this week is to pick up writing Reality Game again. Though I could finish it before then, I'll shoot to finish the first draft by the end of September. Stay tuned for my progress on that novel. We'll see if this fourth book in the series ends the story or not. I'm interested to see how it turns out myself.

Now that I've got my bites lined up, my other plan is to free up time by cutting out activities I don't need to do. I've already stopped following one busy blog that tends to suck up a lot of my time. I'm going to be more selective about what I allow to take away time from my writing job.

We'll see how the rest of this year pans out, and how fast I cross items off my project list. It already feels more doable.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Hole

As readers of this blog may have noticed, my grand plans for writing this year fell flat. Taking mid-year stock, I'm working my way back into writing. I'm offering today a flash fiction science fiction story. One step at a time. Enjoy.


[caption id="attachment_1089" align="alignright" width="300" caption="A simulated Black Hole of ten solar masses as seen from a distance of 600km with the Milky Way in the background (horizontal camera opening angle: 9°)"][/caption]

A sharp beep sounded through the small office. Jane pressed the com button. “Captain Riley speaking.”

“Captain, we've arrived at the black hole.”

“I'm on my way.” She spun from her black, high-back chair, around her oak desk, and through the door onto the bridge.

She settled into her metallic, cushioned chair perched over five stations and a screen displaying a swirling mixture of light and matter draining into a hole in space squarely in front of her.

“Darby, have scanners located the Hawthorn?” Jane studied the screen in hopes of spotting the troubled ship.

“No, Captain. Still searching.”

“Any com signals from the Hawthorn, Kirka?”

“Not yet, Captain. Scanning all frequencies.”

Jane tapped the chair's arm. Jerry should have been more careful. The Hawthorn was to study the black hole, not become part of it. If it wasn't for the other fifty crew members aboard that ship, she would have gladly let the black hole have Jerry and his ship.

“Captain, I have a signal.”

“Put it through.”

The image of the black hole vanished and a black man, trimmed beard, narrow face and short hair, filled the screen.

A smile spread across his face. “Lizard Lips! I should have known you'd be my rescuer.”

Three heads turned her direction, struggling not to smile. Jane assumed the other two didn't turn because they weren't successful. The nerve of Jerry to address her that way in front of her crew.

She rose from her seat and stepped forward. “This is Captain Bower of the starship Arizona. What is your status?”

Jerry's eyes widened. “Playing it formal I see. Well this is Captain Rider of the science ship Hawthorn. Our status is we need a tow out of here.”

“Why haven't you been sucked into the black hole yet?”

He shrugged with a smirk. “We're too ugly. The hole doesn't want us.”

Jane breathed deep to keep from exploding as muffled snickers filled the bridge. “Captain!”

He frowned. “I don't know. We're in some kind of no man's land. Enough power to keep from being pulled in, but not enough to escape. Our power won't last forever.”

Kirka called out, “Captain, I've triangulated their position. Coordinates sent to helm.”

Jane nodded. “Acknowledged. Dune, set a course no closer than ten kilometers to those coordinates. We don't want to make the same mistake Captain Rider did.”

“Yes, Captain. Executing.”

Jerry's lips lost their smile. “Jane, ten kilometers may be too close. We thought we were being safe. It's as if the event horizon reached out to us.”

“Any further out and the gravity beam may be too weak to keep a solid lock on your ship.”

“Just be careful.”

His genuine concern threw her off balance. “Uh . . . acknowledged.”

Within fifteen minutes, Dune announced, “We're positioned ten kilometers from the Hawthorn. Coming to a full stop.”

Jane faced the science station. “Darby, lock onto the Hawthorn with a gravity beam.”

He pushed a few buttons. “Lock established.”

“Dune, reverse course and see if we can't free the Hawthorn.”

“Executing, Captain.”

The engine grumbled under the stress. Lights dimmed as energy drained into the engines as they played tug-of-war with the black hole.

“Captain,” Darby yelled over the noise. “We're losing the lock from the pull of the engines. We'd have to move in closer to get a stronger one.”

Dune turned to Jane. “We've not moved the Hawthorn, but we are being pulled toward them.”

Jane pounded a fist into the chair. “Full stop. Release the gravity beam.”

Jerry frowned. “Too ugly to take. Too pretty to release.”

“Dune, move us away from the black hole.”

“Executing, Captain.”

The engines rumbled. Dune shook his head. “Captain, we're not moving. We're caught too.”

She stood up. “Impossible.”

“I tried to warn you,” Jerry said.

She gritted her teeth. “Your warnings need a warning. 'Don't trust him.'”

All five heads glanced her direction, eyes wide.

“You're never going to let that go, are you?”

“You stood me up. Next time I saw you, you had another victim wrapped around your arm.” Jane sat in her chair. She didn't mean to air her dirty laundry to the crew.

Jerry sighed. “Looks like you're trapped in more than one black hole. I had hoped time would heal that wound.”

She didn't respond. He had left a hole in her when that happened, true enough. A hole sucking her life away.

Darby snapped his fingers and danced them over a series of buttons. “Of course.”

Jane shot a stare his way. “Do you have something, Darby?”

He spun around in his chair. “Time. We're in a time bubble.”


“The gravitational forces of the black hole create a time differential the closer you get to the event horizon. That's why we couldn't locate or contact the Hawthorn until we also entered the time bubble.”

Jane nodded. “So it isn't the gravity holding us in place, but time.”

Darby pointed at her. “Exactly. Moving away produces the illusion of standing still.”

Jane faced the screen. “Captain Rider, did you . . .” Static filled the screen. He had left the time bubble. “Dune, full throttle away from the black hole.”

“Executing, Captain.”

Jane leaned back into her seat. Perhaps Jerry was right. She had been immobilized from lack of forgiveness in her own private black hole. Maybe moving forward, even if it didn't feel like progress, was the way to escape both black holes.

It gave new meaning to the old phrase, “Time heals all wounds.” Or in this case, the hole in her heart.